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Thursday 13th December 2018
This is how we share information and good practices relating to mental health and wellbeing support in schools and colleges
20th May 2018
Read The AcSEED Newsletter for May 2018.
11th March 2018
AcSEED is looking for enthusiastic individuals with a passion for improving young people's mental health and wellbeing to help drive the next phase of our growth.
11th July 2017
Read The AcSEED Newsletter for July 2017.
24th July 2016
Congratulations to The Sixth Form College Farnborough in Hampshire ...
25th March 2016
Congratulations to The Beacon PRU in Redditch, Worcestershire ...
25th March 2016
Congratulations to Lordswood Girls' School in Harborne, Birmingham ...
25th March 2016
Congratulations to Cedars Upper School in Leighton Buzzard, Bedfordshire ...
In primary school I was a very high achiever and a member of almost every after school club there was. I loved school. I went from a very small primary school where each individual was valued to a very big secondary school where you were only ever noticed for doing wrong.
I found school overwhelming and quite bitchy as I went to an all girls' school. I felt quite isolated because I wasn't very loud, I didn't 'play out' or have any interest in ringing for pizzas to be delivered or taxis to come to the school - something which my fellow classmates done every day religiously during breaks.
Everybody in my form class noticed I was the outsider. I made 2 friends during year 7 and 8. Both of them went on to bully me. I reported to my school that one of the girls had been hitting me over break. I never retaliated but the girl lied and said I did, therefore I got excluded for telling the teachers even though they were aware it was an ongoing case of bullying. The other girl kept making threats to me. One lunch time she started kicking me through the corridor and I carried on walking. She tried to kick me down the stairs and this time I did retaliate and hit back. I was honest about that and yet again I got excluded even though the school hadn't done anything to stop the bullying in the first place and it was inevitable it would lead to this.
After this school became a huge dread for me. I feared I'd be beaten on the way home from school. I became very depressed and isolated because I had no friends. School was an escape from home as at home I was being abused and my mother was an alcoholic. I tried to persevere with studies but I couldn't because I was that deep into depression, anxiety and general worrying about the stuff at home as well as being bullied.
There were some days where I'd not even be able to get out of bed, literally. I looked at my old school report the other day and I had 20 something absences and 72 lates. When I'd come into school instead of asking me how I was or why I was late I would be humiliated in front of fellow pupils by the teachers by being told I was failing and it's my own fault because I'm never in. I'd also be given an hour's detention every Wednesday night for being late. I don't think the school realised I wanted detention to escape home.
I used to dissociate a lot in class too which wasn't my fault. I would try to keep up with work and I really did want to succeed. My concentration levels were also non-existent. Instead of exploring why I was like this I was repeatedly told that it was all my fault, I just don't listen, I'm always late and this left me feeling very under-confident and knocked my self-esteem.
In Year 9 I made some new friends and so social life in school was slightly better, although I still found myself isolating myself at times. I was still being abused at home, my mum was still an alcoholic and my dad took my sisters away from me. I began to self harm and I was already gripped by an eating disorder, although my weight was quite normal so it wasn't too noticeable. A learning mentor in school asked me why I was finding school difficult and I explained that I felt like an outsider and I do try to keep up but it's impossible and the expectation is too high. My mum told the mentor about my eating to which I was told "What do you weigh? I probably weigh less than you" "What do you eat?" "Oh you don't eat much do you! I'm naturally skinny though". I couldn't have had a worse response. My teachers and year head were informed about my eating too but I felt like nobody believed me because I was too fat. My school also suspected abuse from home so I admitted everything to which I was told "Adults sometimes do things they don't mean to do". I felt like I wasn't believed. This caused me to self harm further. At registration one day my friend had told the teacher I'd been self harming so my form teacher literally pulled me out to the front of the class and made me show her my arms. I've never been so humiliated in my life. Then she told me "What would you do that for? This is not acceptable behaviour" and she got my year head as though I'd been naughty and done something wrong.
I overdosed in the March of Year 9 as things become too much for me to handle. I had my SATS coming up in the June and I really did want to do well in them. Whilst I was in hospital other children's teachers came to visit them and bring them work. My school was literally a 5 minute walk from the hospital and none of my teachers gave me any work. I called them up and they still never, so I sent my mum to the school and they still never. I even walked down to school with my mum (that's how close it is to the hospital) but they still didn't give me work because it was too difficult catching all the subject teachers, apparently.
When I come back to school I got all the classic "You're a freak" comments. I'd get "What's up with you? Going to kill yourself now?" Some of my teachers even overheard but didn't say anything.
When I returned in Year 10 my weight had plummeted right down. I was told I was the only person to have had an eating disorder in our school so they didn't know how to handle them and what exactly is one? I went to an all-girls' school and I can say with 100% certainty that there was at least 6 girls in my year group alone with eating disorders. One of which is my best friend. In Year 10 I had to have lots of appointments for my eating disorders and with CAMHS plus the routine blood tests and blah blah. My year heads and mentors knew about this and so they should've informed the staff but they never. I'd be shouted at constantly for missing lessons and apparently it's all my responsibility to catch up from another pupil - like another pupil wants to sit there teaching me everything I'd missed - which was loads! I couldn't tell my subject teachers. I was too ashamed to say I had an eating disorder in case they reacted like my mentor and thought I was too fat. I couldn't tell them I was seeing CAMHS in case they asked me what CAMHS was and I'd have to explain. This should've been the responsibility of my year head, mentor and form tutor to inform my subject teachers. Instead I'd just look like the unruly child not turning up for lessons and constantly being put on detention.
In Year 11 I was still suffering from depression, still self harming and I had OCD which exhausted me. I ended up with rituals such as waking up at 3am to exercise, then leaving for school at 5am to get there for 6 when the caretakers were opening up - just because I was paranoid about my punctuality. I don't know whether it was an eating disorder thought or an OCD thing but I believed I'd go obese if I didn't make it in for 6am. My teachers knew that I was exercising from 3am and getting to school for 6 - they must've known it wasn't normal and it was due to a mental thing but they dismissed that bit and just kept telling me well done for getting in on time. When I'd get to school I'd usually fall asleep or severely lack concentration. In the November I ended up in an eating disorder unit. The teachers from the unit called my school to try and get them to send me work, but yet again they never. Instead, the teachers in the unit would have to photocopy the work the other patient's school teachers had sent them. They were also supposed to attend meetings at the hospital about me which included my family, my CAMHS team, unit staff and social workers but my school never attended them.
When I was allowed to attend half days at school, the pupils began to bully me over anorexia. I had people putting tuna sandwiches in my blazer pockets when my blazer was on my chair. I'm allergic to fish. They'd also squash cakes and put them in my pockets and bag or they'd throw food at me. This happened mainly in Physics. I told my teacher and he said he'd keep an eye out but he remained totally oblivious. I told my year head and she told my Physics teacher who said I'd already reported it but he hasn't seen anything, therefore he can't do anything. They expected me to put my hand up as it was happening and point it out to them. Obviously I wasn't going to do that as it could cause further bullying.
At lunch another girl had started sitting with us when I was in hospital who wasn't usually part of our friendship group. As school was the hardest place for me to eat, we'd agreed I'd start on just blueberries just to break the initial fear of eating in school. My best friends knew this but the new girl to our table found out and she kept telling me to share them out because I was too greedy and fat and I didn't need to eat that many - I took this literally as I was ill but I had 20 blueberries per day. At home is where I done the bulk of my eating, like I said, this was just to get me eating in school.
I told my year head and mentor that she was making fun of me at dinner times. She'd throw food at me and when the cleaners would come she'd push all the plates at me so it looked like they were all mine and I'd get shouted at for not cleaning my plates when they weren't even mine. Eventually I developed a fear of going into the school canteen and so I completely ignored it. My school used to tell me there's nothing they can do and I'm no different to any other pupil so I had to go in the canteen. I'd refuse and get into trouble.
As for sixth form, for the first year I got a new year head who was totally supportive and helped me in anyway she could. I had constant appointments in Chester for my eating disorder as there were no services in Liverpool. As I had to miss full days, my subject teachers said I was missing too much and they'd have to drop me from the subject but my year head had appointments with me at the same time every week to see how she could help and how I could catch up. She also explained to my subject teachers that I couldn't attend every lesson and it wasn't my fault, although she never told them why. I appreciated this so much and she helped me loads. I also had to take a lot of time out in the solicitors due to something which happened with my dad, this lead to further depression. My year head said I could re-sit the year and she'd support me in that as I'd missed a lot.
When I returned to sixth form, this teacher left and my old year head then became my new year head. She come down on me like a tonne of bricks saying "Oh not all this again. It's the same old thing with you all the time". She treated me like an invalid, she patronised me and made me dread school. She also kept threatening to drop me from my subjects and telling me that teachers had concerns about me and they can drop me if they want. I had no optimism, no confidence and I didn't feel supported in any way possible. I tried to avoid this teacher like the plague as she literally made every day in school hell.
I also done RE at A Level and one of the subjects provoked PTSD symptoms. I struggled massively with this and avoided the lessons which included this particular topic as I was afraid of flashbacks in school. I couldn't explain why I was missing the subject without saying why to my subject teacher. When my year head called me in I told her it was to do with the topic. She should've asked my teacher what the topic was and she'd have known straight away why I was having difficulty with it as my school were aware of my case. She may well have asked and clicked on but she never done anything at all to help. I didn't want to verbalise it either because I didn't want to seem like I was attention seeking or using it as an excuse to get out of this subject as this is how my school had made me feel in the past.
There's probably loads more my school have done which I can't even think of. I do have a memory from year 9/10 - fainting after being shouted at because I wouldn't eat a banana or drink a sugary drink sitting on the floor in front of the whole class. I didn't want to consume anything in front of them. Then I was sitting in the reception area and being told off because I still refused them.