Sally joined the social movement as a Young Champion in 2018 and working with See Me’s Education programme has delivering training to students.
She has also done media training and been on TV and Radio talking about her experiences. She helped to develop See Me’s FeelsFM campaign and now presents at conferences on the campaign.
Wanting to influence her university lectures and studies, she has used technology to help others understand the difficulties she faces. She has been able to directly challenge discrimination at her uni since becoming a volunteer.
Sally and her brother have also created a video focused on men’s mental health.
It was exactly two years ago that I went to the first training with See Me. I got involved because I wanted to do something about mental health because I had quite negative experiences of stigma and discrimination, particularly in my old job. And I wanted to try and help make a difference.
I went to the weekend training and it was quite a small group, which was quite nice. It involved mental health first aid training and learning about See Me’s What’s On Your Mind pack for schools. What I really liked about it, and I was quite surprised about was being around so many people that had experience of mental health problems and issues. And that was quite refreshing, because I’d never been in that sort of environment before.
I felt very alone when I was experiencing stuff in my old job, and at work, I thought it was only me it was happening to, and I felt like I was the problem. Being around other people who had experienced different things made me feel less ashamed of what had happened, and just meeting other people experiencing similar things, I was quite surprised at that.
The media stuff, I’ve really enjoyed that, and I really surprised myself with that. The schools work has been really rewarding, but doing the media stuff it’s brought back the confidence that I had before. Not that I had much confidence. It has brought some confidence and then given me confidence in me realising that I can do things I never thought I could ever do.
I never thought I could sit in front of a camera and speak, never mind speak about mental health and being really open about my experiences. That’s been, really refreshing. It’s made me realise that I can actually do these things. That’s been nice.
I went into schools last year with See Me, we did training for all the schools in the Scottish Borders. I helped in facilitating mental health first-aid training to fifth and sixth years. We went down and did two days of training with them, which was really good.
It was nice to be able to talk to young people and see the difference in them throughout the training. And just for them to have more awareness of mental health in themselves and other people. I was quite passionate about it because I had never experienced any training in school. So when I actually started to get unwell, I wasn't able to find the words to explain how I was feeling. I didn't really know what depression and anxiety were.
So I feel like, if you could get that training at school, you could actually recognise the signs in yourself sooner, and be able to get help. Or even recognising the signs in your family and friends, to be able to point it out to them, to let them know that there are places where you can go and get help, and that you're not alone in how you're feeling. I think that is really important, so it was really nice to go into the schools and be able to give them that wee bit of knowledge.
I think by the end of the training they were a lot more open and talking about mental health. I definitely seen a change in people, yes.
I was involved in the FeelsFM campaign, starting with helping to develop messages and test the ideas. The campaign created an online emoji powered jukebox to get young people talking about mental health. When the campaign came out I ran a couple of Feels FM workshops with youth groups, getting them talking about mental health. I also went with one of the youth workers at See Me, Mairi, to a conference and ran a stall demonstrating it. A lot of people that were in charge of youth groups were really interested in it. So it was nice to be able to explain this thing, what it was, and to see their excitement towards that. That was really nice, and just to be able to show off.
The workshops with young people were really nice too, because FeelsFM took away the seriousness of talking about mental health. It was quite a sensible way of talking about mental health. Everybody likes music and you focus on music and then you could ask the questions about mental health.
I went through the responses to the questions FeelsFM asked, because I’d done uni work on it. It was really nice looking through all the responses and seeing that people were actually being quite open, especially to the question about, what makes it difficult to talk about mental health? It was very honest and I feel that that was really powerful. There was a real theme of young people talking about not being listened to and not being taken seriously which we analysed and gave to the Scottish Government, who made commitments from it.
I've created an augmented reality app, looking at my experiences of anxiety, particularly social anxiety. I find it quite difficult to go to uni sometimes, because of how I’m feeling. So I made an app to try and communicate the intrusive thoughts that I experienced going into uni, which I think helped my tutors understand how I was feeling.
The tutors made it quite challenging for me, when I have spoken about my mental health, they haven’t taken it as seriously as I had hoped they would have. So creating work like that has helped me to communicate exactly how I am feeling. I think that’s really helped them in being able to understand and put things in place to ease that anxiety, which has been really nice.
I also created an interactive experience, using a connect camera. You watch a video and as you walked closer to the door, the audio and intrusive thoughts got louder. I created that because I have got a thing about doors, actually going into places, that’s where my anxiety lies.
I made a video with my brother Blair, which was good. It was about male mental health. It was an animation, I basically asked him about male mental health, because he has struggled in the past with his mental health as well. So we both wrote a script, and then we recorded it and I did animations over the top.
See Me have been using that video at their schools training recently, and apparently there’s been an increase in male volunteers, potential volunteers, speaking to us about wanting to volunteer, which I think is really encouraging, because male mental health is something that definitely has to be improved. I’ve noticed that with Blair, he’s found it quite difficult to open up to his friends.
He’s opened up to me, and he has started volunteering for See Me as well. Similar to me he’s found it’s quite rewarding to be able to actually speak openly about mental health, and he can’t often do that with his friends. So that’s been really good. It’s nice that See Me have used that video and they get a response from it.
Other mental health charities and organisations have been issuing it as well on Facebook. When I put it up on Facebook a lot of people shared it. I think it got 3,000 views.
I think there has to be a drive for student mental health.
I definitely feel that that is an area that needs to be targeted, because further education is really demanding. Especially when you come out of school, you're going to uni and it’s a completely different environment to what you're used to. When I left school, I went to uni and I only lasted three months because I wasn’t prepared for the stress it would cause.
I also think knowing your rights when it comes to mental health is really important, to know that you can get help with your mental health. If you are feeling any type of anxiety or anything to do with your mental health that impacts your day-to-day life, you can get help.
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