Prioritise mental health and support others

Prioritise mental health and support others Heads of Peer Support Ashleigh McRae and Oscar Lawson

2 June 2023

Heads of Peer Support at St Paul’s Collegiate School, Ashleigh McRae and Oscar Lawson encouraged students to prioritise their mental health and support others. Ashleigh delivered a powerful message at assembly and Oscar reminded us all of what kindness looks like.

Ashleigh says, "Dr Noam Shpancer said, 'Mental health is not a destination, but a process. It’s about how you drive, not where you’re going.'

”Mental health is not something that should be ignored but is something that needs to be more openly talked about and acted on.

Your mental health is nothing to be ashamed of whether you're at your highest point of life or your lowest.

"Imagine living in a world where people are never happy and only see the bad side of life. Some people think depression is when you are just sad. Sadness is if something bad happens and you cry about it for a couple of days. Depression can affect your everyday life and change the way you process your emotions.

Depression can be caused by four main things:

  • Genetics.
  • Substance abuse.
  • Major life events
  • Early childhood memories

"It can cause long-lasting and severe feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and a loss of interest in activities. It can also cause physical symptoms of pain, appetite changes, and sleep problems. In too many cases, depression can cause self-harm or even eventually suicide. You never know what someone else is going through so it’s important to always be kind.

"Depression is serious but that doesn’t mean you have the illness for the rest of your life. Depression can be overcome and you will be able to live your life seeing how much greener the grass is. Talking to a counsellor or therapist is a way you can work through the obstacles in your life and think of new mindsets to hold onto when you have another challenge that you meet in your life. Here at St.Pauls, we have two amazing counsellors who are always there for all students. Talking to someone about your problems shows your strength, not your weakness.

"It’s a mental health issue that is the most common in the world which is extremely upsetting. Depression is not a sign of weakness or a personal failing, and it is not something that can be ‘snapped out of’. I believe that ways to improve your mental health can be as easy as getting exercise, making sure you see and talk to your friends regularly and making sure you save time to do things that make you happy.

"Many people that deal with depression bottle it up inside and do not seek treatment. However, even those that suffer from severe depression can get better with the correct treatment. If you're struggling with a mental illness or depression right now, I want you to know it does get better. I care about you and your mental health. Don’t feel you need to hold a barrier up if you're afraid someone you tell won’t understand or they will judge you. Getting help for depression is extremely important and can make a huge difference in people’s lives.

"Mental illness doesn’t define you and the person you are. There is nothing to be ashamed of if you are struggling with issues personally. It is important to know that there is always someone around you that is willing to listen to your problems and overcome them. A quote said by Lori Deschene, 'You don’t have to be positive all the time. It’s perfectly okay to feel sad, angry, annoyed, frustrated, scared and anxious. Having feelings doesn’t make you a negative person. It makes you human.'

"Don’t be afraid to speak up if you're struggling. You deserve to live on this planet. We all want you here."