Today marks the first day of Children’s Mental Health Week (1 - 7 Feb). To show our support for such an important cause, we have teamed up with the NSPCC to share a first-person account of Hollie’s story. Hollie Evans is a 23-year-old who has suffered from mental health issues from a young age but was saved by the work and support that Childline offers. This story mentions suicide, so consider reading on with a person you trust if you might be triggered by this.
I have always suffered from anxiety from a young age, yet I was a happy, confident and talkative girl to the outside world.
But things changed for me in 2013 after I was diagnosed with epilepsy and suffered a panic attack on a school skiing trip in France.
My doctor then diagnosed me with depression and anxiety, and within a matter of months, my mental health had deteriorated so much that I dropped out of school. I isolated myself from my friends, and at the age of 16, I was admitted to the Maudsley Hospital in London.
After being in the hospital for six months, the night before I was discharged, I tried to take my own life. I’d had suicidal thoughts before, but I’d never tried to do anything. They put me in a secure room, and I asked if I could have my phone. That was the first time I called Childline.
I spoke to a counsellor about my feelings. She asked me about the things I like to do, and I told her about my dog, my friends and what I would do when I was better. Afterwards, I was able to talk calmly about what had happened. That chat stopped me from going back to my room and trying again.
Over the next couple of years, I had more stays in hospital, and I had stopped talking, walking, eating and taking care of myself.
Although I wasn’t talking to anyone, I would often call Childline and chat with a counsellor when I felt low.
This service was my lifeline, and it gave me the confidence to write a note to my mum asking if I could see a counsellor. After two and a half years of silence, it was that counsellor who finally got me talking again.
Over the last two years, I completed an Extended Diploma in Applied Arts at college. I didn’t expect to enjoy being in education again so much, but it gave me something positive to work on, and I loved the course. I never planned to go to University, but I decided on a whim to apply, and I got a place to study Graphic Design at UCA starting in September. I’m excited about going, and it being a whole new chapter in my life; I’m not completely sure where it will lead at the moment or what I’ll find myself doing but I kind of love that freedom!
In the film ‘We Bought a Zoo’ there is a line which says ‘All you need is 20 seconds of insane courage, and I promise you, something great will come of it.’ I always feel that is the case with mental illness.
Every day, Childline helps other young people like me talk about their mental health. Since the first lockdown was enforced in April 2020, the service has delivered 54,926 counselling sessions to children and young people struggling with their mental and emotional health. Those children who contacted Childline spoke about loneliness, low mood, low self-esteem, depression and anxiety. Some young people have been feeling isolated and overwhelmed due to concerns about family members catching the virus, school closures, and cancelled exams - while others have felt cut off from support networks and are missing family and friends. Now, with renewed lockdown measures, you may be feeling isolated, low or scared, and you may feel you have nowhere to turn for support. If you feel this way, remember that Childline saved me and it could save you. That is why this Children’s Mental Health Awareness Week I want to tell all young people that you don’t have to struggle on your own and that Childline is here for you every day.
If you are a young person in need of help and support similar to that discussed, you can contact Childline for free on 0800 1111 or via www.childline.org.uk.