A nerve struck… #MentalHealthMatters


An ego boost? Data that almost taboo subject currently. No this is a screenshot from this blog and the amazing response I have received over the last two days. I decided to be open about my situation. Some online colleagues are aware of my propensity to depression as it is a topic we have discussed previously in supporting each other at low times. We don’t always see the causes, but that is not important when supporting a friend / colleague, this time I have opened a potential can of worms.

Comments including one from my wife have used terms like “brave” and honesty. The latter is clearly true, I have tried to dispute the first with some, if this is bravery then yes I am brave but that is not my motivation. Nor do I seek sympathy, this series of recent posts has been my cathartic way of confronting,challenging and ultimately finding a pathway through my life to restabilise my mental health so that I can return to my full professional role. For some it has been a shock, for others it has expanded on points that they were aware of, most importantly it has shown that we each have our personal stories and they mould who we are and how we act.

I work in a profession often derided, politically we feel like a football kicked this way and that at the whim of politicians at a bewildering changes of pace and direction. We live in a society where the young “grow” far faster, they may not be able to cope with the pace of this change, I know many adults who find the pace of change in our lives hard enough and they often know a wider range of coping strategies. In Twitter (@aknill) posts over the last two days I have stated a desire to stand up for mental health, I am inspired by writers like Robert Crampton in The Times who has always been honest about the stabilising effect fluoxetine has in his life. I am male, therefore supposedly I am meant to find emotional outpourings to be hard but as colleagues and friends can confirm I am a big softie.

I offer no solutions but seek a raising of the taboo that many follow In discussing mental health. I intend to continue to do this through my blog posts and tweets. I intend to offer Teachmeet presentations that look at this topic, I am willing to be quoted in discussions in the workplace.

Let’s make sure that mental health is not a can of worms, a trip hazard, just a factor that some of us need to work with in our daily lives. Sometimes we will slip up, work with us to reduce the associated risks and lost time where individuals are unable to cope in society.

If you agree, disagree tell me. Do not voice these opinions in private, behind closed doors bring them into the public forum that is social media. Let’s learn from each other.


7 responses to “A nerve struck… #MentalHealthMatters

  1. I find your decision to be open about your challenges of interest. I have tried to blog but stopped as I could not do it if I separated the personal from the professional, for me the two are intertwined. I am increasingly frustrated with professionals who sell themselves as perfect, outstanding or incredible. Which is of course fine in terms of blogs because I don’t have to read them but harder when a colleague states it to you. It should be relatively easy for me to keep perspective on this though as my years as a TA taught me that such teachers were no better or worse than the more modest or self critical.
    I tend to keep my health private, having faced ample prejudice. My conditions are rare so many perceive them to be physcosomatic which is a response I understand to come from the fact it is out of their understanding.

    Having teenage children and working with the same age group also presents challenges. The job done well does not leave much time or energy especially if managing your own health is an effort. Last week alone finding out about the sexual behaviour of a student I work with and intervening when a vulnerable child got hit have left me feeling raw and talking to teenagers outside of work have highlighted my reflections.

    My brother is about to leave a secure and safe home with my sister and go into supprted housing and so I am anxious. This does not equal your own situation which is a daily and hourly pressure involving one of the people you love the most intensely and my ability to empaphise with you is minor shadow of what you are going through. But I wholeheartedly agree with you when you state that for many people life can not easily be compartmentalised.

    • I used to compartmentalise a lot. Now I rarely have the capacity or ability to do so. I spent several years offering a haven to the needy /”different” at break and lunchtime. After last summer I had to stop offering it the resilience and gap from personal limits had been broken down.

  2. I still worry that if I don’t compartmentalise I will leave myself open to prejudicial actions. As it is I can’t keep my dietary regime private but I need it to prevent infections and I know people take an unbalanced view of it which they are prone to expose to me.

  3. I cannot relate to your situation but your blogging helps me to be mindful of mental health. A loved one of mine relies on meds to maintain balance in her life and it has taken me a while to realise I cannot fix it. Tricky when you really like fixing things!

    With regard to education, I live in Christchurch New Zealand two years after our earthquake, we are still realising the on going effects of it. This year has seen record numbers of students enrolling in the regional health school as they cannot cope in mainstream education. I was relieving a class a couple of months ago where a kid totally flipped out (14yr old) over what seemed like a tiny thing. I quickly removed him and gave him some space to feel safe while I finished the lesson. In the follow up, I checked that he felt he could get through the day or if he would let me walk him over to the councillors office. Then I did the necessary paper work. The Dean of the level found me before the end of the day to say I had done all the right things and that this kid just needed to get through puberty and he would be alright. I found this alarming as what I saw was a kid that is really finding it difficult to cope and who needs help. For this reason, I think it is good that you are challenging those in the education field to think about our mental Health.

    Kia Kaha (Māori and Pākehā (European) phrase meaning stay strong)

    • Many thanks for the comment. As a geographer I have continued to follow the situation in Christchurch and am not surprised of the longer term effects on students and staff. I read this just after chatting with my sister who lives in Auckland so New Zealand links abound.

  4. Reblogged this on The Echo Chamber and commented:
    This reblog is a couple of days late but I think the issue is of great importance.

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