Woke up this morning at 6.30 am. Didn’t sleep terribly well and when I woke, there was a real sense of dread and foreboding about how this particular Tuesday would go.
Sick feeling, felt quite uneasy and unwell, but then I thought “They have asked me to do presentations today, and I am going if it’s the last thing I do!”
So leaving early, I set off for the venue. It was a local 11-16 school, a type of secondary modern in old money. The format was doing the same presentation to three different groups of roughly 25/30 pupils. A tough audience and you have to get the balance right.
Met up with my colleagues and away we went. In fact, the time went so quickly, it was amazing really. The teachers in charge of their groups were engaging, interested and respected by their pupils. It’s not always the case that teachers are interested in what we do, but we had no worries today.
I cannot tell you how well that went. I started off nervously, but settled in nicely and I worked well with my colleague. We had a good bit of teamwork going and the pupils enjoyed the work. We try and keep it very interactive, so they do the work and we just help it along. The children are at a very pressurised time of their lives and believe me, they are incredibly well informed with a huge amount of knowledge of mental illnesses.
The subject of mental health can be very heavy, but I believe we have the right balance. Everybody that performs the presentations are not doctors, psychologists or clinicians, or professionals brought in at great expense. We are all people with lived experience of mental illness and we inject a dose of realism into the work. We may not be professionals in name, but in nature, we certainly are.
The teachers and a school governor who sat in on one of the groups were really happy with the work we did. The children were a delight and a joy to work to. Informed, attentive, interested. I came out of the sessions at noon and felt completely spiritually and emotionally fulfilled. Worth getting out of bed and making that early start, making a difference to people’s opinions and views. As I’ve said countless times before, of all the things I’ve done in my life, doing presentations on mental health rates highly on the scale of enjoyment and fulfilment.
Simply wonderful….a great experience.