During my five years in a comprehensive secondary school, I have experienced how the issue of mental illnesses is dealt with by the school’s staff and facilities. What I’ve found is that, however well prepared and knowledgeable the school is in supporting a pupil with a mental illness, it is the understanding that is lacking.
For instance, one case of an eating disorder is not the same as another, but the school staff would still follow the same procedure to help any student, even though this may not be applicable to them. This strict idea of what mental illnesses look like is also a problem in terms of spotting problems – someone suffering from an eating disorder does not have to look very thin.
Taking my experience as an example, it is also clear that the topic of mental illnesses is not discussed in enough depth with students. When I became ill, I remember being in denial about having anorexia nervosa, especially because I had learned in school that it was simply a desire to be thin or to look like a model – neither of which applied in my case.
Had I known more about anorexia, I may have sought help earlier, preventing it from becoming as bad as it did.
Clara Goundry is 16 and a student in London