#WorldMentalHealthDay

mental heath problems can affect anyone and they are common. probably much more common than you think. it’s a topic that is often swept under the carpet but the more that we shy away from it, the more difficult it is for someone to admit needing help. mental health problems can easily be triggered with changes in academics, sport, relationships and identity etc. it’s as simple as that. young people especially have so many pressures at such a young age making life difficult. i would just like to raise some awareness today and reassure young people, athletes and students that you are not alone, particularly boys. boys tend to withdraw from discussion of topics like these after being told to ‘man up’ and hide their emotions away. but boys are massively effected too. there is help out there online, in schools and at nhs centres. don’t be hesitant, it’s not out of the ordinary. spread the hashtag and message today, let’s help each other collectively.

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How many more times?

After the attack in America last week. A mass shooting, killing dozens of innocent people. I had so many thoughts. So many thoughts about how people react to situations like these. It’s obvious that we need to think about the victims and others effected. But I have a few questions that I’d like to challenge concerning this whole affair whilst it’s still current.

I watched an interview where a woman had actually witnessed the attack. She said that we need to focus on people’s mental health problems to stop these attacks from happening. She was right. However when questioned about gun control in America, she was quick to be defensive and point out that she wasn’t a ‘politician’. She said that individuals are to blame for attacks like this instead of guns. Which made me think, everyone is so stubborn and caught up in these silly debates. People are worrying about what label they will get given instead of tackling the problem head on. In this instance, she was opposed to the thought of being labelled as a politician. Maybe things aren’t as black and white as we think. Maybe we need to tackle both sides of the problem. Mental health problems need to be tackled, yes. It is also very clear that the law concerning guns in America also needs to be re assessed. America has had so many mass shootings because guns are so easily available for people to  legally buy. It’s not a matter of which problem needs to be sorted. We need to look at the bigger picture. Sorting out only one of the two problems is like plugging your phone in to charge it without turning the switch on. It simply won’t do it’s job.

I also thought about the way that the media portrayed the murderer to be ‘Grandad’ or ‘lone wolf’ instead of simply just a ‘mass murderer’. It seems wrong that when a Asian, Muslim man has done something similar in support of extremism, there seems to be a whole different narrative that is sent out to the public. The acts of this mass murderer aren’t any less deviant than any other terrorist. So I wondered why the mainstream media almost sympathised with the man by saying that he’s never committed a crime before or that he was a Grandfather. They also jumped to the conclusion that he might have had mental health problems. Likely. But when similar Asian, Muslim suicide bombers kill others in the name of what they call their ‘religion’, the media don’t mention anything about that individuals mental health problems. They don’t mention their family or lack of previous criminal activity. They’re just named as ‘evil’. White American men are a bigger domestic terrorist threat than Muslim foreigners, perusing more attacks (And that’s a fact, there are statistics so support it) . Can we not just admit that Asian, Muslim and White men are all able to have mental health problems, they are all able too kill maliciously? And more importantly, they need help.

And finally, you hear people say “another attack” or “pray for _____” so many times. Too many times. Attacks like these seem to be normal now and it’s not right. We are so used to seeing terrorist attacks happen in Western society and it doesn’t make any sense. It’s clear that something needs to change. The government, people in power need to change laws and crack down on this wave of terrorism. Gun laws in America. The freedom of use on the internet. Everything needs to be analysed. We’re tired of praying for the world.

As for the title of this post. How many more times do terrorist attacks need to happen before they are normalised? How many more times will people get murdered by white men with guns before the media realise that not only Muslim extremists are a threat to society? How many more times do people need to get killed by guns before the laws in America change?

Instagram: what’s behind the smile?

We’re bombarded with images of happiness on social media. But what’s behind the smile?

These days, everyone has an Instagram profile. A place for you to share images and videos with your friends, family and other followers. We all see those Instagram models with 100k+ followers. Their lives look great right? Well, probably not as great as you might think. An Instagram profile is almost like the media industry as a whole. The media (or person in this situation) will only show you what they want you to see. We’re all guilty for it. Just think about your Instagram feed. You’re only showing your followers elements of your life that you want them to see, and that’s perfectly fine. It’s not a bad thing.

However, we have to admit that our Instagram accounts aren’t a ‘fair’ representation of ourselves. Unfortunately that has caused 12 year old’s following these so called ‘Instagram models’ that they look up to. It leads them to staring to compare themselves to them which isn’t great for the good old ‘mental health’. It makes you feel unsuited to the rest, almost not good enough. When you’re young and naive, you have a much more of a narrow minded outlook on the world and this is why it happens.

People will always aspire to be like others without taking into consideration that things are never perfect for anybody. So, the next time you compare yourself to that Instagram model, top athlete or musician, just remember that it wasn’t too simple for Oprah to become a billionaire.

Feel free to follow me on Instagram here and criticise me for my bad representation on Instagram.

(This one was just a short one. Nothing too deep, just a few thoughts that I thought would be good to write about.)

Boys cry too

“Be a man and stop being like a little girl.”

What does that even mean?

The majority of men reading this would have heard these words being directed towards them at some point in their life. This is because society has created the obscure ideology that men simply don't have emotions. We say that men shouldn't cry and that men should be mentally stronger than women. But is there any logic in this?

Not only is language like "don't be such a girl" patronising for men, but it's also derogatory towards women. It communicates the message that it is a negative thing to be a woman. This is highlighted in the well-known Always' #LikeAGirl advert.

“I don't cry, I'm a boy" says the 10 year old boy that has been a target of gender stereotypes all of his life without even knowing it. 

Masculinity is so fragile.

It baffles me as to why men aren't seen as emotional beings like women. To top this, several studies have concluded that men are actually more emotional than women. So, the only reason why men aren't seen as emotional, has to be because society has taught them (us) to hide those emotions. We are fools for making men feel as though their feelings aren't important and that they should be hidden away.

Gender stereotypes aren't beneficial in this case scenario. Anybody who says that men shouldn't cry doesn't make any sense. I bet you didn't know that men are almost 4 times more likely to commit suicide than women. Those masculine, powerful and robust men chose to hide their tears away in fear that they wouldn't be taken seriously. Can you blame them though?

Are we killing our men? Yeah, maybe.

What I learned from my first year at sixth form

Recently, I finished my first year at sixth form (equivalent to 11th grade). Towards the latter part of the year, especially after my exams, I began to reflect and realise that I have learned a lot of general life lessons along the way. I have also learned a lot about myself and how to better myself as a human being. Using the knowledge that I now have, I can hopefully use it positively to excel academically and as a person in year 13 and further on in life.

So, here are a few lessons that I have learned along the way:

Be yourself

This first lesson applies especially to people that have moved schools to go to a new sixth form or college. You will certainly meet new people, make new friends and maybe even form new friendship groups. My advice for this would be to be yourself. Theoretically, at the start of the school year, you can really reinvent yourself and start presenting yourself in a way that reflects you as an individuality. When going to sixth form, I feel as though you can really be who you want to be without being judged. In school before, everybody had to wear the same uniform, study the same subjects, have the same hairstyles etc. Whereas in sixth form, it’s an opportunity for you you to express your individuality and differences to everyone else. With being yourself, you will automatically have a happier lifestyle and positive outlook on things as you won’t have to worry about conforming to social norms.

Stay in contact with old friends

Staying in contact with old friends is so important. These are likely to be friends that you have had friendships with for years at your previous schools. It wouldn’t make sense to loose contact with them simply because you don’t get the opportunity to seen them as often as you used to. Your old friends will also be great for when you’re feeling down and need somebody to talk to. They are the friends that will know you better than any of your new friends that you have made. Furthermore, they are likely to be the ones who care the most about you, so letting go of those particular old friends would be a silly mistake.

Let go of old friends

Yes, this is a complete contradiction to my previous point. However, when moving to sixth form, you will need to let go of some old friends. My advice would be to loose the ones that don’t support you as much as you would like, the ones that have a negative outlooks on life and the ones who were only your friends because they attended the same school as you in the first place. These “friends” will no longer benefit you in life and as savage as it may sound, you will have to cut them off at some point.

Your mental health is important

Mental health is always something that is brushed under the carpet. It’s rarely ever spoken about for no logical reason what so ever. Yet, your mental health/state is probably the most important thing that is going to get you through year 12. Being able to grow as a person, learn new things and deal with the workload will be so much easier if you are in a good mental state. Having a huge work load can undoubtedly cause stress and if you are one of those students that is able to keep a positive attitude all year round then I definitely take my hat off to you. With that, just remember that your well being is important and it isn’t something that should be ignored. I advice discussing your problems (if you have any) instead of hiding them away to try come across as strong. It’s also okay to feel down or cry. Take a day off sick if you need to. But remember, you’re not the only one going through the same thing and many have been in your position before. You’re not alone.

Don’t feel obliged to get into a relationship

By all means make new friends, have a crush on one or two people but don’t feel as though you need to get into a relationship. If you feel as if you have found someone that you can have a future with then by all means get into the relationship (but don’t rush it). I would also advise not to get into a relationship for the sake of it. If you know it’s right then go for it. Besides, boys/girls ain’t shit.

Time management

Year 12 has been the most challenging year whilst in education for me so far. I would definitely say that time management is crucial. Time management will determine on whether you hand your homework/coursework in on time, whether you get your revision done in time and whether you are doing equally as well in all of your subjects as oppose to failing one and getting A’s in another. Try and stick to a schedule. I myself do athletics at a high level outside of school which means that I have to train/compete several times a week.  Sticking to a schedule is honestly the best way to get your work done in time. Wiring a to-do list will also be very satisfactory once everything is ticked off.

These were just a few lessons that I have learned over the past 11 months that can be used as tips for anyone going into yer 12. Hopefully, I will be able to go onto year 13 and learn many more lessons and use past ones to my advantage.