I have been deliberating posting this for a wee while, I wrote it back in November but wasn’t too sure whether to post it or not. A few months ago, I read an article about the further budget cuts that are being imposed on schools resulting in cuts to the availability of FREE counselling and mental health support to children, despite Theresa May’s pledge to improve NHS funded Mental Health support.
Now there’s a general election coming up, these are the types of things we need to think about, we are in a mental health epidemic, and I doubt the conservatives are going to make any improvements to this any time soon.
All I can say is that, as a child who needed this support and benefitted from this support at school, it is imperative that this is STILL made available for ALL young people, and more funding needs to be provided to ensure that this service continues to be available and improved continuously in the future. Without it, and the staff who recognised that I needed help, I would NEVER have made it this far in life.
Without free access to these services in school, I don’t know what would have happened. I probably wouldn’t have made it through secondary school, my relationships with family and friends would have continued to deteriorate as would my mental health. What people fail to realise is that counselling services are expensive. Very expensive, my family could have never been able to afford the treatment I needed, and NHS waiting lists for this help are STILL so long that they are sometimes calling people in for therapy when it is already too late. This needs to stop. This needs to improve…
As it’s mental health awareness week this week, I thought it would be important to post this now and share a little bit about my life long struggles, and a little bit about some of the most important people to helping me get through it.
Get a snorkel on, it’s about to get deep…
Dear my teachers,
First and foremost, thank you. Thank you a million times. I cannot express how much of a difference you have made to my life, but I’m going to try. Who would have thought it, ay? I’m a graduate…
When I tell people of the person I was as a child, they cannot believe it. They cannot believe how far I’ve come in my little life and they always ask how it happened. I guess that’s when I tell them it was all because of you. As things have gotten more difficult lately, I often think back to the child and teenager I was and how much you helped me.
As teachers, you don’t really have to invest yourself in your pupils if you don’t want to. I’ve seen plenty of teachers who couldn’t really care what happens to the troubled kids, and I’ve seen others them give up on plenty of children just like myself. Mine were the opposite, even the ones who I made life extremely difficult for. They always did their best to make sure I achieved. My goodness, I was horrible to them, and to other kids.
I was a very angry teen, and for good reason. I had a lot going on at home. I barely slept (hence the grouch). I had absolutely no idea about how to deal with my emotions. My mental health was out of control, and as a teen my behaviour was unmanageable (Mum, you’ll agree right?!) But you all put up with me, and made sure I made it through school, by making sure I attended anger management, cognitive behavioural therapy and counselling.
Leaving school, I was on my last warning, although that last warning had been my last warning for a pretty long time. A small list of my “offences” include: fighting with boys (they used to drive me MAD!), texting in class #badman, refusing to hand my phone over (and getting my parents to fight my battles about it), swearing at teachers (and pushing them to their limits by making one of them swear back at me), threatening teachers (LIKE WHAT?! who even was I?!), being the control of a class and swaying the way it could go, generally being horrible, convincing my form class to hide from our tutor so we didn’t have to go to assembly, drinking on the Italy trip (still sorry about that), hiding from you under the stairs when I got in trouble so you had to call my mum, talking back, shouting over people, and just generally being a loud, aggressive, violent person.
Just a heads up: I still have no idea who spray painted the school on my birthday.
I was forever sitting in a hot spot, or in internal exclusion, or outside my head of year’s office. But for some reason, you didn’t kick me out. You kept fighting for me.
Rather than permanently exclude me, you made sure I got help. You made sure I got the anger management, counselling and therapy that I needed, and that I had a card so that I could leave the classroom when it was getting too much for me. You made sure to ring my mum at the weekend to see how my mood had been so that you could best manage it when I got to school on Monday. You sat and listened to me, you calmed me down, you talked to me as though I was an adult when no one else would, you provided support like no other, and recognised how much I needed to be at school if I was to get through everything.
You made sure I left Wye Valley with pretty good GCSE’s (2A*’s, 6A’s, 3B’s & 1C). Pretty damn good if you ask me. You were all as excited as me when I opened my results, and saw that I had the grades I needed to get into Wycombe High for my A Levels. Some of you even got teary.
Things got better at home after 2010. We moved house, and got back onto a better path.
Then things went a bit tits up again, for a whole different reason.
So, in 2012 I stopped going to school and when I did come to school I phoned my mum to come and get me, I stopped sleeping again, I was on anti-depressants, my anxiety was out of control, I spent virtually no time in class when I was at school, and things were really bloody difficult.
I couldn’t count the hours I sat in two of your offices and cried, and talked, and moaned, and giggled, and cried again, and made you phone my mum so I could go home because the day had got too much. I told you both things I would never share with anyone else. You listened to me. You made me feel like school was my safe place. You provided support to my mum, making sure you always kept an eye on my so she didn’t have to worry as much while I was at school. When my friends couldn’t find me in the common room, they’d come and check your offices… that’s how often I was there. I know it must have been difficult, and I am so sorry if I burdened you at any time. I hope you know I appreciate it more than anything else in life. You were the ones who got me through my a levels, and got me into university. You felt like the only people I could trust at that time, so thank you for that.
Come A Level results day, I had a little slip in my envelope because I hadn’t quite made the grades I needed to get into university, instead of three B grades, I got two B’s and a D. You both just wanted to check if I had got in, and when I told you I did, you both gave me the biggest hugs and cried. I remember. You cried. (So did I though, so it’s fine…). I can’t believe how invested you were, it is so obvious how much you cared for me, even though you really didn’t have to. It was probably one of the best days of my life, and I am still so thankful to you for getting me here.
Without you, I wouldn’t have been able to move 500 miles, and make something of myself. Meet the man of my dreams, and build a better life.
Thank you a million times.
I don’t think you’ll ever realise how much you’ve done for me, or just how important you all were in my life.
Ysabelle McGuire (Now Graham-Smith woooo).
I can’t find a photo with Mrs Green ANYWHERE (but you were also AMAZING)