To celebrate Children’s Mental Health Week, we have been sharing what our Young Mental Health Ambassadors feel represents the theme ‘My Voice Matters’ to them. Zoe speaks about having her voice heard about mental health and chronic illness.
Countless times have I felt as though no one was listening to me, or considering the impact certain aspects of life were having on my mental health. Particularly as a teenager, when I had no explanation or diagnosis, I was desperate to make my voice heard and find a way to improve my wellbeing.
As soon as I managed to get the support I needed and saw an incline in my mental health, this desperation turned into a desire to share my story and show other young people that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. There are people that will listen, and there are people that will be there to support us. Of course, people may not exactly relate to what we’re going through and they may not fully understand, but there are good people in the world that truly want to help because they do understand how important mental health is.
Each individual’s lived experience with mental health is vastly different, which makes it even more important that every one of them is heard.
Unfortunately, I was diagnosed with myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME) during the pandemic, which became a bit of an obstacle in my advocacy for mental health and wellbeing. However, being diagnosed with a condition that has been significantly under-researched and wrongly understood for decades has shone a light for me on the fact that so many mental illnesses are also under-researched and there is a huge stigma that still exists.
As daunting as it may be, the more freely we talk about mental health, the more we can tackle this stigma, and give others the courage to make sure their voices are also heard.