09 February 2018

 As part of Children's Mental Health Week, service users are sharing their mental health stories. Sham was referred to CAMHS after developing anxiety, she wants to inspire peers who sufferer form mental health that recovery is possible. 

 Mental illness is a part of my life and I want to raise awareness for others with mental illness. I don't believe I have anything to be ashamed of. Sometimes people forget that teenagers and even children suffer from mental illness. This is a difficult subject to talk about, trust me I know. But if we talk about mental health more, people will understand and help reduce the stigma. I wrote this as I want to inspire people, I want someone to look at me and say 'because of you, I didn't give up'.

Anxiety attacks aren't always the textbook hyperventilating. They can come in various forms such as unpredictable bouts of rage and/or irritability, pickiness and sometimes even hypersensitivity to change. Fast-talking, stuttering, and/or stumbling over words. Not talking at all. Sitting still, seeming zoned out. Understanding the way anxiety works can help decrease stigma, in the school place and at work. It also helps those around someone who is having an attack to help them calm down, this just says a few, but there are so much more.

I have a desire to decrease the stigma attached to having a mental illness and educate not only young people but older people too. Stigma definitely plays a role in one's recovery. I have been called a princess and an attention seeker when having an anxiety attack. See this is the stigma, because, unfortunately, we live in a world where if you break your leg, everyone runs over to sign your cast. But if you tell them that you have a mental illness, everyone runs in the other direction. That's the stigma you see, we are so accepting of any body part breaking down, other than our brains. And that is ignorance. Pure ignorance. And that ignorance has created a world that doesn't understand depression. That doesn't understand Mental illness.

For the past year, I have been involved in a Service User Participation group. The group gets current and ex-users of CAMHs to meet up and talk about the service and how we could improve it. Through this we are able to share opinions, give valuable feedback and whilst we do this we gain confidence and friendships.

It is and has been extremely important to me to have been able to give my advice and feedback to the new CAMHS School Team, who go into schools and train teachers and talk to students about how to appropriately deal with students who suffer from mental health disorders. I wholeheartedly believe that our future is based on those in schools, and we need to tell them that sometimes mental wellness comes before grades.

Young people are 100% our future.

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