#Raise The Volume: It's All In My Head

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SH1Mental health starts in the head but that’s not the whole story. It affects our whole body, from the tips of our fingers to our little toes.

Anxiety was the dark horse that no one saw coming: I was an acting enthusiast, a sport star, and an A-grade student. I was not shy or quiet, I was loud and confident, I was not the ‘likely victim’. However, mental health does not discriminate and Anxiety quickly became a debilitating disorder that controlled every last aspect of who I was.

As I continued to tackle both the ordinary obstacles of everyday life and the more extra-ordinary hurdles, my mood soon started to be affected and I would rely more and more on sport as an escape, and controlling food for a sense of security. This quickly evolved into an addiction, and soon I found myself trapped in a downwards spiral, suffering from anorexia nervosa.

Rewind 10 years and I had never heard of mental health, I did not know what it was. Adults may have whispered the words around me, but it wasn’t something they generally discussed, let alone with children.SH2

As I look back at my past and what I may have hoped had played out differently, I wish I had known about mental health, I wish my friends had known, I wish our families had known, and I wish our teachers had known. Maybe then we would have noticed sooner, and perhaps a different story would have unfolded.

It is easy to look back in hindsight and hope for a different ending to your own story, it is harder to look back and use what you have learnt to help create a different ending for someone else.

So, from my own a experiences, here are the things that I want you to know:

1. 1 in 4 of us will suffer from a mental health problem each year, and for 1 in 10 of us will struggle with our mental health before we turn 18.

2. In an average sized classroom, that equates to 3 students to each class of 30.

3. Mental health isn’t about being mentally unwell, it’s about having any feelings/emotions/thoughts at all. So we all have it. The state of being mentally unwell is when these go a little bit off track.

4. Mental illness can take so many shapes and forms depending on the person and the way they experience it.

5. If we could choose to have good mental health, we would in a heartbeat.

6. Poor mental health can affect us for a day, a week, a month, or years. It can also affect us on and off throughout our lives.

7. We can get better and your love and support is always appreciated and helpful.

8. Please teach your children about mental health, they deserve the knowledge to tackle whatever the world throws at them.

Emily Palmer is 19 and the author and illustrator of ‘Scrambled Heads, A Children’s Guide to Mental Health’. Buy it now from Amazon or email scrambledheadsbook@hotmail.com . A great resource for starting conversations about mental health with children and young people.

SH3

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