Increase Mental Health Awareness in Schooling Curriculum

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Living with anxiety is a place where your mind takes your fears and insecurities and floods it with overwhelming scenarios over and over again. A sometimes debilitating condition and something extremely difficult and personal to open up about.

Living with depression is one clouded in sadness and hopelessness. A hell in your mind that you have made your home. A feeling you are completely alone in this world and no one cares. A feeling of what's the point? A feeling you would rather be dead.

What kind of lives are these for a young mind? 

Like many other mental illnesses, the victim finds themselves helpless, overwhelmed and with nowhere to turn out of fear. Fear of judgement, embarrassment, or a hopeless feeling that if your own mind is against you, how could anyone else possibly help you?

All mental illnesses are not a chemical imbalance in your brain. You are a product of your environment and your experiences, and these illnesses are more often than not developed over time; stemming from your childhood and resurfacing later in life. And although they are treatable later in life, like any illness, most cases could be avoided if the correct measures and open approaches are taken early in life.

So many young lives are tragically taken away. Seeing friends and families inconsolably crushed, and forever wondering why their loved one felt this way and couldn't talk to them. Studies show 1 in 4 young Australians currently have a mental health condition. That suicide is the biggest killer of young Australians, accounting for the deaths of more young people than car accidents. And that half of all lifetime cases of mental health disorders start by age 14 years. There needs to be more done. This is becoming a legitimate epidemic.

I have a 4 year old son who we encourage daily to talk openly about his feelings and emotions. To never be ashamed to cry and never be embarrassed to ask for help. Assure him that he can tell us absolutely anything he wants without fear of judgement or embarrassment. That he is never alone. Naturally as children get older and approach their teenage years, they tend to talk to their parents less, as they become more involved socially with friends and take a more independent approach to life. They need to be raised to feel comfortable talking to their friends, or anyone, without this fear of judgement, embarrassment or ridicule.

There needs to be a culture change and a new perspective on how children view and identify with emotion. That having a fear does not make you weak, that feeling sad does not make you a sook, and that it is a part of life which everyone experiences regardless of gender, lifestyle or preference. The fear of judgment and ridicule received from these notions are what further fuels insecurities and feelings of seclusion into their adult lives. The majority of things that haunt you in you adult life are a result of things that have happened in your childhood, which you've either been forced to bury or suppress out of fear.

There is a lot being done for support and awareness among adult communities in general regarding mental health these days, however for many, this is too late. The damage is done, and for many it has become too painful to face as an adult. There needs to be a more open dialogue about this to our kids from a young age, not only through their parents, but through the early learning and schooling curriculum; so it is introduced as a collective discussion among themselves and their peers. An awareness and professional approach to this needs to be adopted and introduced, just as it has been heavily with physical education, sexual education and other important health issues for children to be aware of.

This petition is to Senator Simon Birmingham; the current Minister for Education and Training, to consider introducing a higher level of awareness into schooling systems; to make a positive change for our future generations and help stomp out this epidemic.  



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