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18 April 2022

Because mental health matters…

ALLEN Tsui profile image
Written by

ALLEN Tsui | Primary School Teacher

Hello. Anybody there?

Yes. Inspired by Tim Wilson, I’ve taken to the keyboard to share my views here too now. Many scrolling by will probably know me as the #morningmugshot man and frequenter of the #teacher5oclockclub on the Twittersphere.  I actually joined Twitter back in August 2012 but was forced to step away from the social media space in Autumn 2019.  Over that time, I managed to claw my way to just shy of a thousand followers.  When I re-booted my account after exceeding the 30 day ‘no recoverable historic data’ time limit on New Year’s Eve 2020, I made up my mind to adopt a more upbeat, irreverent and frivolous approach to what I say and share. Almost two and a half years later, I find myself being relatively popular in the social media playground.

Is there a serious side to the Tsui?

Those who know me in the real World may have witnessed how opinionated I can be and able to make the most controversial of click-bait positively agreeable.  I can also get extremely frustrated by life’s nonsense.  However, I’ve felt fortunate enough in recent times to have developed a strength of resilience I don’t think I’ve ever had before.  I’m not entirely sure if this is the product of age and experience.  This is not to sound complacent.  There are still many achievements I aspire to.  However my priorities have become my family rather than the persistent push for promotion and professional recognition in the real World.

#MentalHealthMatters

It hasn’t always been this way for me.  In the darkest of times, life has felt like a very long, dark tunnel without even a pin-prick of light.  It was half way through my first school year immediately after qualifying that I had to step away from teaching.  I thought that I would never return.  Fortunately, I had, through my GP access to psychotherapy treatment which took over a year before I agreed to being discharged.  More recently, I needed help to overcome a tempest of traumatic events which engulfed me.  Thankfully, senior colleagues sign-posted me to a wonderful member of the team who was working peripatetically to nurture the mental health and well-being of the young people at our school.  Qualified to provide counselling services too for adults, I was allowed some time off to meet with her during my school day.

Here to listen…

Through these experiences, I’ve learnt the importance of being able to share our burdens with others. Social media can be a wonderful means for this and be incredibly cathartic.  Some may scorn the value of the connections made online as being empty and vacuous.  There are, as those of use who teach digital citizenship warn, inherent dangers and risks from forming relationships over the web.  But setting these potential pitfalls aside, social media can be a useful space for solving, resolving or just simply develop a more insightful approach to overcoming life’s conundrums.  As a wider teaching community, there are many common practical challenges in our day to day work lives which those outside teaching may not necessarily associate with.  Being able to socialise on school nights when there are various work pressures is one.  Arranging holiday travel with those you enjoy the company of who aren’t teachers is another.  Some struggle with what to do during the school holidays because of the combination of these factors.  You may be a great teacher but beyond the professional façade is a personal antonym who has to endure unspoken struggles.  The community-centric ethos of so many schools may mean disclosing any weaknesses makes it impossible to get help.  The proximal closeness that social media offers means being able to reach out to many who, like me are simply around and ready to listen.  We may not be qualified to provide the professional help necessary but can provide some mental health and well-being First Aid.  Thank you for reading.  #morningmugshot anyone?   

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Join the conversation at our event on Mental Health and Wellbeing for teachers and schools with a panel including me, Cat Lamin and Kirsty Locker next Wednesday 27th April at 4pm. 

https://tinyurl.com/caswellbeing

Discussion

Pete Dring
18/04/2022 10:45

Thank you Alan for speaking out and for all the support that you give to friends, colleagues and strangers online.

Tim Wilson
19/04/2022 10:00

A fantastic blog Allen. This is how we should approach mental health matters, as you say, in an open way and provide those platforms and spaces for teachers and schools to talk about things that affect them.

We’re running an event with an amazing panel include Allen, Cat Lamin and Kirsty Locker next Wednesday at 4pm all about this and more. Please join us.

Book your free place: ONLINE: Health and wellbeing - Teachers and Schools

Rachael Coultart
10/05/2022 08:27

Thank you, Allen, for your openess and honesty here. It’s so important to have role models like you in our schools. I missed the CAS Virtual Special and couldn’t find it on the CAS TV playlist, so do you know if it was recorded?

Keep up the good work. Rachael

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