Browse the links below to watch videos and read stories from young people talking about their own experiences of mental health, as well as stories of how the CAMHS service has helped.
Kira's story - 'A journey I wanted to go on'
When I was 14 I put on a dress, a dress I’d always had, and I started to notice lumps and bumps and fat. I was a quiet girl and I was always scared to say the wrong thing to my friends as I didn’t want them to hate me more than I thought they did already. So I pushed my friends away and made new ones. I then started to diet. I would count calories and I lost a lot of weight. But I didn’t see that and I thought I was too fat and not good enough. I would cut my skin and pull out my hair but I didn’t think anything of it.
When I started year 12 I started to feel empty and sad and I did some really stupid things. I would have screaming matches with my mum, I basically put her through hell. I would go out all night and lie to her. Then it started getting worse. The feeling in my stomach got bigger and I would wish for cancer to slowly take me out of this cruel world so I could finally be at peace with myself. I would make lists of reasons to live and come up with almost nothing, I would write down everything I hated about myself and I would call myself fat, useless, hated, and alone. It was one of the darkest times in my life. I would buy a packet of cigarettes and promise myself when I finished the packet I would take all of my dad’s morphine and slowly fade out of existence. I would feel this huge unfillable void and I had no motivation at all.
It got to a point where I finally woke up and knew something was wrong. I told my mum and we went to the doctors to get help. I’m not saying that it was easy and I’m not saying that it is quick. But it’s a journey that I wanted to go on. I wanted to get better and I wanted to start living my life again. It helped me see that I wasn’t alone and that there were so many people out there who wanted to help me. They helped me understand exactly what it was that was causing this and then we worked backwards to help find my triggers. Then we worked on strategies to help fight off panic attacks and control my thoughts.
Now I am fully discharged and I can go on living my life. I’m not saying that I don’t still get those thoughts and I’m not still anxious but I’ve learnt how to deal with it and how to stop those thoughts becoming actions.
Ella's story – 'My monster lives on my shoulder'
Every kid has a monster, right? It might live under the bed or lurk behind doors or live in the wardrobe. These monsters can be huge, hairy and hideous or tiny and goth-like. They might look a little like the monsters we see in movies. But the thing about monsters is, as the kid grows up, they eventually disappear, right?
My monsters is not that kind of monster. He lives on my shoulder and he'll never go away. I can't see my monster but he's there. He can be as light as a chestnut or as heavy as a football stadium. He can whisper like the wind among gravestones or bellow at the top of his voice like crashing waves. No one else hears him though; he's crafty like that.
My monsters tells me to do things – things I don't want to do. You think I should ignore him, right? Well, it's not that easy. Each time I try, he comes back louder and heavier than before, until I give in and he gets his way. Again. The more I do as he says, the stronger he gets.
You want to know what he makes me do, right? Well, it's nothing bad, nothing that you'd even notice, unless you're me. My monsters makes me do things in a certain order. At night, even if I'm dog-tired, he makes me check things over and over again before I go to sleep. Is the wardrobe door locked? Are my curtains properly closed? Are my snow globes in height order? He tells me that if I don't do then then terrible things will happen.
One day, my monster is so heavy that we decide to go to the doctor. I hear my monster laughing at me, telling me there's no point being here. The doctor looks confused when I tell him I have a monster on my shoulder. I am ready to admit defeat but my doctor tells me he knows a monster specialist (apparently they exist!)
My monster specialist is Gill. She looks quite ordinary. She can't see my monster either but she can sense him. She teaches me tricks to shut my monster up and she helps me talk back to my monster. She tells me it's a staircase and we have to tackle it one step at a time. It's scary at the bottom of the staircase and it takes a long time to climb. Sometimes I stumble but, eventually, I reach the top.
You're expecting a happy ending, right? One kid, no monster. But life's not a fairy tale. My monster is real and he still lives on my shoulder. He always will. He's just been tamed, that's all. I no longer do the things he tells me to do.
My monster is OCD. He's my monster, one-of-a-kind, but I know that lots of children have their own monsters on their shoulders. My advice is, if you're battling a monster, get help from a monster specialist – they do exist.
Ruthie's story - 'I can do this'
In honour of Mental Health Week...
“I do things that I enjoy doing and may have never done before, to push past things that I would normally be too scared to do; just to prove to myself that i am capable to do anything that I put my mind to and my mental health doesn’t control my life.
I think it is good for people to talk with others about mental health to understand the similarities and know that mental health isn’t abnormal. People can encourage each other to overcome things and learn each other’s ways of coping. I think that Mental Health Week is partly about speaking up and trying something that you might have been too scared to do before and if not, you can encourage others. Although it can be hard to believe it, your mental health is what makes you strong, you aren’t surviving, you’re thriving, and I believe that everyone has potential to overcome their mental health problems even if it’s for one second because it helps to encourage yourself in the future if you just think, “I can do this”, you know you can.’
Liv's poem - 'Who I am is just fine'
Being myself is difficult.
Being myself is tough,
Because the more I try to be myself,
The more I don't feel good enough.
I don't dress like my friends do,
And I don't quite fit in,
But when I don't try and be myself,
I'm not happy... I can't win.
I've got a darkness that follows me,
It turns me up inside.
The more I try and hide it,
The more it makes me cry.
I want to tell my friends about it,
But I don't think they'll understand.
Maybe I should just hide away,
Come up with a better plan.
It's not like I fit in anyway,
I still like doing things they don't.
I've tried to force myself to be happy with their games,
But I don't think I can cope.
I've hidden away from my friends now...
I don't do the things I use to love.
I just sit with the darkness,
Wondering if I'm good enough.
I started doing what makes me happy,
When I sat inside my room,
People started to accept me,
Because I'd accepted myself too.
Realising that showed me something,
When I love myself others will love me too,
For all the unique things I am,
And all unique things I do.
When I myself can be happy,
When I myself can be alright,
When I myself can fight the darkness,
And do the things I like...
I don't need to be anyone else,
Because who I am is just fine.
Kelly's letter - 'I have my whole life ahead of me and I'm in control of it all'
I’d like to say an enormous thank you to... the CAMHS team. I guess I've been very afraid about the thought of ending therapy, as for me this has been my way of talking and finally telling someone how I feel. Our therapy sessions from back at the beginning of the year to now have changed my look on life. Most importantly you've taught me it's okay to feel everything I've been feeling and it makes sense. Looking back at the head space I was in before our sessions is like looking back at a different person. I was lonely. I hated the person I was and I was very unhappy. I became mentally exhausted on a daily basis from being trapped inside my own thoughts, I had no idea what to do. I was totally lost in life.
Fast forward and now, I’m such a different person, I understand it's alright and sometimes good to express and acknowledge how I'm feeling, I also realise I should not let past experiences shape the person I am becoming. I shouldn't always push people away and I should know not everyone will hurt me. You've put my faith back into people caring. I now know I too should change my approach in relationships making people see me differently and making it easier to receive the love and closeness I want and need so much. Honestly I didn't think things could ever get any better and I saw no way out but you've shown me it's normal and I will be okay, a couple of bad days no longer define my whole life.
Honestly I could not be happier if I tried right now, I have my whole life ahead of me and I'm in control of it all, which terrifies me but I'm excited and life is finally good again.
Megan's experience - 'I can't even describe how CAMHS has helped me'
Eloise's experience - 'Be yourself'
Health Uncovered podcasts
Teenagers across the country explore the issues that young people are facing today in these award-winning podcasts, created with top Brit actor Cel Spellman. Covering topics ranging from online bullying to sexual health, body image to mental health, they're revealing, amusing – and occasionally rude!
Two of the podcasts, covering mental health, were created in Dorset with students from Ferndown Upper School and young people involved with CAMHS, supported by local school nurses and CAMHS professionals. Download them – and the rest of the series – from iTunes now using the link below: