Occasionally someone asks me what my favourite part of my work is. The only way I can explain this is by telling a story. Some of you will "get it", some of you may think I'm ever so slightly mad.
So, one of the things I've done in an attempt to change attitudes is go back to my former secondary school and give a talk to a class of 14 year olds. Now, given my experience of school wasn't necessarily pleasant, this was a terrifying experience. Until I watched the magic happen.
I'm not necessarily a big talker, so when the students didn't immediately engage in conversation about mental health or put forward any questions, I had a feeling of dread in the pit of my stomach. Then their teacher (who happened to have been one of my teachers whilst I was in school) set the tone by putting forward a couple of questions. Slowly, one by one, the students began asking questions and remarking on bits of my story that shocked me.
The societal standard of staying silent began to crumble. Magical.
The icing on the cake was reading feedback forms from the students when we left the school. I'm not exaggerating when I say I was fighting tears - I was in awe of how receptive those kids were of the message being put before them.
To this day, that is one of my favourite experiences of all time.
I owe each and every one of those young people a massive thank you. They are why I'm fighting for mental health to be on the curriculum. They are why I'm fighting for localised support services. They have given me a purpose, and I don't think any of them realise that.