Friday 10 February 2017

Dear The Education System | An Open Letter To The Education System From a Mentally Ill Student

Dear The Education System | An Open Letter To The Education System From a Mentally Ill Student mental illness wellbeing health NHS OCD anxiety depression blogs bloggers UK

Dear the education system,

I may be your A grade student. A student that gets full marks on tests, assignments and essays but those results come at a cost. A substantial price that doesn't have a monetary value. My mental health. 

I'm only human. A human being with thoughts, feelings and emotions. I have a brain. A brain which is put through its paces by you to remember a ridiculous amount of numbers, facts and studies. All of which I will forget the second I walk out of the exam hall. This brain which is exploited by you can also get poorly. My brain is poorly. 

My brain is overloaded with pressure and expectations created by you. It's not sufficient for me to just turn up to my lessons, complete homework and revise for my exams at the end of the two years. I have to be doing things outside of college to enrich myself and make me more employable. Work experience, volunteering and part-time jobs. Qualifications alone are not enough. 

I ask you one question. What good is a series of letters on a piece of paper, if I'm too depressed or anxious to do anything with that once I leave the gates? But you don't care by then. I've left, and you've added my what seem perfect grades to your fancy chart to portray how perfect your establishment is. I'm not your problem anymore. I'm just merely another statistic to you.

You say you understand. But in reality, I don't think you really do. You see I'm not just another depressed student. Who's drowning in relationship and friendship problems. I don't feel sorry for myself, and I can't just snap out of it. I'm not crying because I'm just hormonal. I'm not just anxious because I'm having a mood swing. My mind is in tatters, and it's about time you stop this from happening. 

You think bullying doesn't occur in college. You think people don't stare at you, isolate you or talk about you under their breath, but loud enough so you can hear their hurtful words which pierce my memory forever. It's college now. Little do you know the torment I've been through. You don't recover from significant physiological stress in a couple of months. It's a lengthy process. All you are doing is prolonging that experience. 

Does my wellbeing mean nothing to you? Why does my mental health come second to education? You tell me I just need to get on with it. This is life now. Little do you know the trauma I've been through as a child. You wouldn't throw a child who couldn't swim in the deep end of the pool, to teach them that life is hard and they need to get on with it. So why put me in a situation which you know is going to have negative impacts on my mental health on top of my already existing crumbling mental health.

Dear The Education System | An Open Letter To The Education System From a Mentally Ill Student mental illness health wellbeing time to change Mind NHS support bloggers blog

How many breakdowns and meltdowns does it take for me to convey this system is breaking me in half? How close do I have to be to leaving college, for you to realise that I'm not just another over dramatic, hormonal teenager. In fact, I'm a mentally ill student trying to tackle the education system while battling the devil inside my head. 

What annoys me most about the education system is that good is never good enough. Why isn't 35/40 on an essay good enough? Why is it 'generally good' but could do with improvement to get full marks. Why do I always have to get full marks? Why do I have to always be working towards targets. I get it, self-improvement is important, but there's a limit. We've reached that limit. It's just pressure upon pressure. Unneeded and unwanted. 

Knowledge. Is knowledge something you can actually measure with a letter, number or percentage. Is regular recap tests a reliable or accurate way to measure a student's progress or ability? I didn't know the answer to some of the easy questions apparently I should have known. I'm told to up my game, to work harder, revise more. There are only 60 seconds in a minute. 60 minutes in an hour and 24 hours in a day. I'm already working 16 of these hours every day. How much more can I really give? 

And then they patronise us about the importance of taking regular breaks, exercising for 30 mins a day, eating three healthy meals a day and getting eight hours sleep. On top of the workload that's just not possible. I get D's and E's on assignments and recap tests. It makes me feel bad about myself. My confidence, self-belief and mood are at an all time low. My mental health suffers because of this constant testing I'm put under. 

If you thought all this was enough, it only gets worse. Constant pressure from the day you start to think about the future. Uni, work, apprenticeships. UCAS applications, personal statements on top of trying to revise for the exams that are going to get you into these universities. I know what I want to do with my future. I know that traditional uni life is not for me, I know what's best for me, yet I'm out under constant pressure to think about uni. If you don't want to go to uni but are a high-grade student, you are looked down upon. 

Do you know what? I've had enough! I'm fed up of being put under constant pressure while my mental health suffers as a result. I should be entitled to an education as much as those without mental illnesses are. Why do I not really get the adequate support to complete my studies. There's only so many times you can say you are leaving college because of your too ill to carry on without anyone doing much about it. 

I've had enough of the constant overload of stress and worries from college. It's all too much. My mental health can't take anymore. I'm only human. I'm not a robot. I'm still going to work hard, but I'm going to take things at my own pace. I'm going to do what I need to do to pass my A levels, but I'm not going to stress out over little recap tests or homework and forget to live. I enjoy the subjects I do for what they are. I like the content I learn, and that's all I'm going to care about from now on in; enjoying the subjects, I'm studying. 

Mental health doesn't discriminate. So don't discriminate against people with mental illnesses
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