Monday, January 28, 2013

The Evening Before

Ahead of my talk to the students of my placement school, I'm having some doubts. Mental Health is a pretty major topic, and I've never spoken about it on a public level before. As it is, I'm not much for public talking. Classrooms I can manage, because I feel in control of the situation, and I'm able to give them assessment, but I can't force a student to be comfortable with the idea of talking about Mental Health.

I think my biggest concern is that, standing in front of them, I might not be able to answer their questions. I'm leaving a chance for them to ask questions related to the topic, and well, it's a pretty broad one. I don't have all the answers, though I am working on learning as much as I can about it all.

I don't know, I guess I'm just worried that someone will have a question that's extremely important to them and I won't be able to answer it for them. I'm covering a broad range of material, from neuroscience, to the teenage years and the natural feelings of that time, to depression, drugs, alcohol and suicide. I'm giving them the information they need to contact specific people about specific problems.

But what if that's not enough?

I can't tell them everything there is to know about all of this. I can't tell them all about depression and the multiple ways it can affect somebody. I can't tell them all about suicide, its affect on families, the affect it can have on somebody planning it, or why people suicide. I can't tell them everything about self-harm, or alcoholism, or drug use, and I know - I know - that it's not my job to tell them all of this, and it's not possible to fit it all in within a single class period, as well as giving them a chance to actually ask something that's on their mind as a result of the talk, or give out an information sheet, or anything like that.

This is probably going to be the hardest thing I will ever do in relation to Mental Health, because it's the first time I'm properly talking about it in a public forum. It scares the heck out of me, really, but I'm hoping it will get easier.

More importantly, I'm hoping the message with sink in to anyone who might have some doubts about any of this sort of stuff, either for themselves or a family member or a friend. I know there's a lot of valuable information in the talk. I won't be casting any judgements on people, and I'll be emphasising that the students don't, either. Mental illness isn't a weakness, it's biological, like diabetes or heart disease, all illnesses affected by both genetics and environment, and I'll be damned if I don't make that point get across.

So, I'm scared. I'm worried. I'm anxious. I will probably be freaking out a bit the closer it gets to actually having this talk with the students. But you know what, I'm talking about it. I'm not keeping it all to myself. I'm doing just one simple thing to help take care of my own mental health.

How about you? Any questions on mental health that maybe, maybe, I can anticipate before the students ask them?

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