I tweet and blog a lot about my network and how being an outward-facing leader who is connected to a wider educational community fuels me. It the last few years through Twitter, StaffRm, #womened and now #bameed, through #teachmeets, #leadmeets and #researched I have met a plethora of fantastic educational contacts who have inspired me, empowered me and connected me. Through these connections I have ended up meeting brilliant educators and collaborating on some fantastic projects. These collaborations have reignited my passion for my profession.
This is a topic that is close to my heart as I have had a lot of close family experience mental health concerns. Their treatment and reception by others has varied. I have also watched others struggle to ask for and accept help and support for fear of the stigma or reaction from others. The impact that this delay has had on them has cost them their education in some instances, their marriage and job in others. As a teacher, I also want my students to feel comfortable and confident - teenage years are tough enough as it is!
I was at a community organisation meeting when I heard a statistic that stopped me dead in my tracks. One in three children in the UK is affected by dementia. This statement made me realise for the first time, the hidden impact of an illness we usually associate with old people. For me it meant a third of the students at my school, Alder Grange in Rawtenstall, would be touched by dementia.
There is a lot of media attention on the mental health of young people. Barely a week goes past without a new article about the mental health crisis. The issue of child and adolescent mental health is of major concern for three reasons. Firstly, although we know that about 10% of young people have a mental health disorder, it is by no means obvious which young people are in that 10%, much less who the 15% who are at higher risk of developing a mental disorder in future (Ibid).