Stephanie's story: Are school years really the best of your life?
As a 22-year-old, I look back at my school life, particularly high school. I wouldn’t say I was jumping from the rooftops screaming I was having a blast, but I didn’t hate every moment either. It was school. I went, I did work, I went home and would count down the days till the weekend.
But I remember always being told "enjoy school, it’s the best years of your life!” This put a lot of anxiety and pressure on me.
Best years of your life? For who? What if these aren’t the best years of my life? What’s yet to come? Is this as good as it gets? What do adults deal with?
Looking at children now, I feel like the saying that school is the “best years of your life,” is getting less and less the case.
Children deal with a lot of stress and I can vouch for that – and it’s never easy hearing an adult saying “you don’t know what stress is”.
Being made to think of what kind of job you want, before you can spell your own name, has a massive impact. This meant at such an early age I was already having to think, "What is a good job? What can I realistically do with the qualifications I may or may not get? How much can I survive on?"
Children may also have to deal with a lot of extra factors, such as home life and bullying, things out of their control. Bullying has got worse over the years. The existence of social media has made it even worse so that bullying can happen 24/7.
At a young age I was witnessing videos of people fist fighting, calling each other racial, homophobic and transphobic slurs. Statuses belittling people. I’ve seen it all.
It makes me sick to my stomach but instead of giving it an angry emoji reaction and a share, we can make a difference and teach children about how vital it is to take care of your mental wellbeing before something unimaginable happens.
Children feel too
With the Make It Count campaign, we can make sure that every child feels safe no matter where their issue arises, at home or at school.
No child’s feelings should be belittled because they’re a child. They’re still a human being who’s living and breathing and if anything, trying to educate themselves on how to process emotions.
It is important for a child to feel valued and as though their feelings matter because they do. They deserve to know they matter and they deserve to have a future.
We need your help
We're running our Make it Count campaign to ensure mental health is at the heart of children's school experience. We can't run campaigns like this without your help - please consider making a donation today.