01.09.13

Georgina Cantwell

Mental health blogger and Girl Guide leader

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I’m Georgina (also known as Georgie), I am 19 and I live just outside Cork City. I blog about mental health issues at the Indigo Hope.

Since I was five years old I have been a member of the Irish Girl Guides, the one place I always felt normal. I could be myself without the worry of what others thought of me. It was a safe haven. I have grown over the years and am now an official leader. I have the opportunity to provide that very same environment for the other girls that walk through the doors. I think it’s a place where everyone is everyone’s friend and the support within the guiding community is one you can’t find anywhere else.

When I turned 17 my mental health took a turn for the worst and saw me dropping out of school. Guide meetings were the only place I was ever happy. It was like the weight of the depression and other stresses were just lifted off my shoulders. I could laugh and sing and play without a worry.

Over the past two years I have become incredibly passionate about mental health and do all I can to help raise awareness, starting with the blog I set up in May 2013. I blog about my experiences in the hope of showing people that it is OK not to be OK and it is fine to talk about mental health.

Because I am a Girl I ask…what is it I can do to help raise mental health awareness and in turn reduce the stigma, because in this day and age, mental health awareness is crucial.

Because I am a Girl I believe…that everyone has a right to be heard. Nobody should feel like they have to deal with a mental health illness alone. Nobody should be turned away from a mental health service because of a lack in resources. Everybody has a right to be cared for.

Because I am a Girl I hope…that one day mental health will no longer be a taboo issue. I hope that people listen to the fact that mental health is not shameful. It’s not something that is contagious and so just by talking and listening to someone, you won’t become “infected”. I hope that more and more people pay attention to organisations like see change who work tirelessly to reduce the stigma.

Because I am a Girl I wonder…many many things. I wonder why the HSE allows money designated for the mental health sector to be spent elsewhere. I wonder why people who go to the A&E because of a fear of hurting themselves are sometimes left untreated and turned away. I wonder how much more it will take to convince everyone that mental health is nothing to be ashamed of. I wonder how many people actually believe that mental health illnesses are contagious and that they deserve to be locked away from the rest of society. My list goes on.

Because I am a Girl I dream…of living in a world of equality. A world where everybody is treated with love and respect despite their mental health, sexuality, gender and so on. A world where racism and discrimination don’t exist. A world where people don’t feel alone.

Because I am a Girl I remember…being a part of the stigma surrounding mental health when I didn’t understand. That’s why I think it is vital to begin educating young people about the issue and teach them that it is OK not to be OK. Giving them the basic knowledge on how to deal with a situation when it presents itself.

Because I am a Girl I like…hearing people talk about mental health and being accepted by the people around them. It makes me feel like we are actually moving forward to that world I dream of.

Because I am a Girl I dislike…hearing people talk negatively about mental health as if it is not important. I don’t like the fact that a lot of people think it’s something that takes only a click of your fingers and that you can snap out of it as easy as “123.” I also dislike when money that is designated to the mental health sector by the HSE is then spent somewhere else leaving the sector underfunded, which then leads to services being under-resourced and subsequently leaves vulnerable people without the help they need.

Because I am a Girl I feel…very strongly about mental health. I feel so intent on making a difference and doing all I can to help young people who are suffering.

Because I am a Girl I celebrate…every time I make it through another day. Making it through another day is a huge success in my book. It gives you confidence and the strength to make it through the next one. It’s something worth celebrating.

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