Monday 20 December 2010

My Winning Speech in the Speaker Competition

How would you react if one of your friends had a mental health problem?

Because it happens, one in three people are either born with or will develop a problem with their mental health. So to think about it, that one in three people sat in your row, in the classroom, in the cinema, at a concert or on the bus. Consider this, every single one of you here today who has sat next to me, well I have news for you. You have sat beside someone with a mental health problem.

I was diagnosed when I was 13, I was then told I have had this problem since I was born and I’ll live with it until I die. I was also told by my doctors not to tell a soul of my problem because the guaranteed me that people would react badly. That terrified me and it took me 2 weeks to tell even my closest of friends, but to be honest I shouldn’t of been so frightened. When I told them they were like ‘It’s Alex, so what if she has this problem, she is still our friend’ and to this day they still support me and look out for me. So I think in that way I have the greatest friends in the world. So I would like to thank Laura Todd, Keeley Middleton, Karla Leyden, Sammi Nicholson and my long standing best friend Sarah Baillie.

So why can’t everyone react as well as my friends, why do some people react really badly. Because having a mental disorder is just like having a disability, only you can’t see it, it’s locked up inside your head. Imagine one of your mates saw a guy in a wheel chair, and started saying ‘he’s weird’ or trying to exclude him, well you’d turn to your mate and go that a wee bit sick a little disgusting. Well it is. So why is it somehow ‘acceptable’ to be like that with someone who has a mental illness? I know from my own experiences, that even though I have this problem upstairs, I am still proud of who I am. I have nothing to hide anymore. 

So I am going to ask you again and this time I want you to really consider this, otherwise I’m just wasting my breath.

How would you react if you found out someone had a problem with their mental health?