"Coming out of hiding?"

This is actually a fairly old question from an interview last year. For context, the question was about making the change from being someone who knew no boundaries when it came to hiding her mental illness, to being someone who will shout from the rooftops about it in order to help others.

Honestly, I don't really have a clear answer. The truth of the matter is, I remember being in school and every now and then someone would come in from a mental health organisation and give a speech in assembly. There's one such assembly that I remember very clearly because I began pulling my sleeves down a little further as the representative was speaking.

One thing that sticks very clearly in my mind from such assemblies is the fact that I always sat there thinking "what do you actually know? It's all very well saying you've known people who've been ill, but what do you know about it?"

As such, now that I'm older and doing a lot better, I feel comfortable standing in front of a room of young people, saying "I know how it feels. I've been there, and I want to help you." What I would stress is I prefer smaller numbers so that I can actually interact with each and every person. Assemblies don't allow for that interaction, for the questions and the discussion. Classes generally do.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not knocking the people who do go out and give talks. Every little helps. I just think that sometimes the best person for the job is someone who's only a couple of years older than the audience, who speaks in simple terms rather than medical jargon, and who is completely open to interaction.

What I do isn't just about raising awareness. It's about providing young people with the tools to deal with mental illness if and when it becomes an issue for them.