Tes FE people of the year: Pete Roberts

At the beginning of 2020, this college lecturer bravely shared his story of suffering with harm OCD with the world
29th December 2020, 12:00pm
Kate Parker

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Tes FE people of the year: Pete Roberts

https://www.tes.com/magazine/news/general/tes-fe-people-year-pete-roberts
Mental Health Champion: College Lecturer Pete Roberts Has Been Named A Tes Fe Person Of The Year

Over the past decade, the way in which we talk about mental health has changed radically. 

It's now much more common to hear people in positions of power and influence talk candidly about their own mental struggles while discouraging others from suffering in silence. 

The public discourse has invariably filtered into education, and, more so than ever, students and staff are having healthy conversations about mental health and wellbeing. At the beginning of the year, one teacher took the courageous decision to share his story with the world.


Wellbeing: Should I tell colleagues about my mental health issues?

Long read: The teacher who thought he was a psychopath

Tes FE people of the year: Sam Parrett


Pete Roberts has harm OCD: a mental health condition that means he has extreme and violent visions of harming those he loves the most. It's scary and unsettling - and something Roberts has lived with since he was a teeanger. 

Roberts told Tes that he would have a vision of himself bludgeoning his family to death with a baseball bat, drilling a hole in his father's head and picking up a boiling kettle and tipping it over his sister. With no one to turn to about his thoughts, he hid himself away in his room, isolated and disengaged. He struggled throughout school, also dyslexic but undiagnosed. 

As a young man, Roberts was convinced he was a psychopath, and took up a job in the RAF to distance himself from his family. After 23 years, he turned his hand to teaching. 

Raising awareness about mental health issues

Today, Roberts has a family of his own and is a teacher at Coleg Llandrillo, Wales. He now views both his harm OCD and his dyslexia as his "super powers", which enable him to teach with empathy and to see the danger in every situation.

Keen to banish stereotypes and help others who may be suffering similar mental health issues, Roberts decided to publish a memoir, detailing the harsh realities of his condition and his journey to being happy and healthy. At the time, he was unsure and worried about how the college would react. He was called into a meeting with his principal, who immediately hugged him and offered his full support. 

The bravery of Roberts, and other teachers like him, to stand up and share their mental health stories, no matter what the consequences, is applauded by all of us at Tes

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