Skip to main content

25 April 2022

Mental Health Matters

Catherine Lamin profile image
Written by

Catherine Lamin

Struggling with mental health is hard. Even knowing there could be a problem, it can be difficult to acknowledge that something is wrong and that’s not even taking into account the stigma that still exists around mental health conditions.

I was first diagnosed with depression when I was 19, after a cry-for-help suicide attempt. I didn’t want to die, but I wanted to injure myself enough to make people notice me. Since then, I have experienced anxiety and depression on a low level throughout my life, sometimes bad enough that I’ve needed medicine or therapy, and it’s only recently that I’ve begun to understand why I struggle so much and therefore how to heal. 

Looking back, I would say there were clear signs of anxiety manifesting even in primary school and, while high-functioning anxiety probably pushed me to overachieve at school, I can’t help but wonder how different my life would have been if someone recognised and identified that I had a problem. Maybe I wouldn’t have ended my first year of university on antidepressants, maybe so many things would’ve been different. Maybe not.

So, why am I telling you this? Well, I am experienced in dealing with mental health issues, but I missed all the signs and symptoms during lockdown 1 and ended up crying on the phone to my GP. You see, the last 2 years have been deeply traumatic on a number of levels and for teachers, there has been so much going on that many people are close to collapse.

Think about what you have been doing for the last two years - probably trying to learn new skills to be able to teach remotely, supporting colleagues who are less tech-savvy to learn those skills too, worrying about pupils in difficult home situations, trying to support keyworker children in school, trying to deliver hybrid lessons to pupils both in-school AND at home, dealing with the fallout of two years of broken schooling leading to poor behaviour and children missing basic social skills, who are emotionally immature. All the while being told by the media that teachers are lazy and selfish; that pupils are academically behind and that schools are failing them. Is it any wonder that so many teachers are leaving the profession?

Now stop and re-read that. Take a deep breath and recognise just how much you have achieved. It is ok to feel sad, it is ok to feel angry, it is ok to feel exhausted. You have been shouldering an incredible mental burden.

When we are in a stressful situation, the first thing most people stop doing is taking time for self-care - we prioritise everyone and everything else over ourselves. 

 

That needs to stop. 

Right now.

I want you to write down one thing that you are going to do for yourself in the next seven days - you don’t need to share it, but if you do, it may increase your chance of actually doing it. Don’t feel guilty about taking some time for yourself. Don’t feel like you shouldn’t. Self-care is absolutely the single most important thing you can do right now - whether it be to sit down and read a book with a glass of wine, or have a girls’ night out with your mates, do something that you enjoy for yourself and not for anyone else. Trust me, you deserve it.

As for me, I’m off to meet a friend in Covent Garden for a ridiculously extravagant ice cream with candy floss at Milk Train while enjoying the Sunday sunshine.

 

-------------

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

https://tinyurl.com/caswellbeing

 

#mentalhealthmatters

Discussion

Tim Wilson
25/04/2022 10:16

Wow! What a powerful blog Cat. Thank you. You’ve highlighted the massive importance of self-care. I’m ever mindful of a number of my friends who are teachers who struggle with their work-life balance right now, and worried about the impact that it is, or at least might well be, having on their mental heath.

Thank you.

Please login to post a comment