Published on
09 October 2020

Today (Saturday 10th) is World Mental Health Day 2020 and 16 year old Scarlett* is sharing her experience, in the hope it may help other young people who are struggling with their mental health.

Head of Barnardo’s NI Michele Janes said:

“This pandemic continues to have an impact on children and young people in Northern Ireland, and will likely continue to do so for a long time. It is vital that we can sustain the support needed for children and young people both during and after this pandemic, particularly in areas like mental health and wellbeing.

“Last week Barnardo’s NI launched our new emotional wellbeing service ‘See, Hear, Respond’, that will work directly with children and young people offering practical and therapeutic support. It also offers advice and guidance to any adult who is concerned about a child’s mental health and wellbeing. 

“You can self refer to this service online at www.barnardos.org.uk/see-hear-respond-northern-ireland or by calling 0800 157 7015 12pm - 7pm Monday - Friday. Please visit the website where you will also find lots of guidance and information.”

World Mental Health Day 2020

Scarlett’s* story

*The young person’s name has been changed to protect their identity.  

Scarlett* is 16 and has been supported by Barnardo’s NI for almost two years. She has been receiving support from their Young People’s Partnership (YPP) service and NOVA Trauma Support service. 

“I used to live in Women’s Aid at the domestic abuse shelter and that’s where I met Trisha, my social worker from the YPP. I did a lot of drugs back then. I was depressed and I didn’t have many friends, so having Trisha to talk to once or twice a week really helped.

“Trisha was always there to talk, we would sometimes go out for tea and talk about my issues. She would help me with school problems.

“I thought that I was going to need therapy my whole life and I thought that’s just something I need to deal with. A year ago I was taking drugs and skipping school and if you told me then, that I would now be sober and going to school and actually enjoy going to school, I’d be like - way on! I never thought that I would be here. 

“In NOVA I was supported by Karen and we did trauma therapy. In our first few sessions I told her ‘I think I am going to need therapy my whole life’. 

“We would talk about traumatic things that have happened to me and it sucked talking about them, but I knew I had to or else it was always going to be stuck in my head. I would have panic attacks all the time and nightmares, now I don’t have that so much. I think this is because of the work I did with Karen, I am so happy I actually did it. 

“I was going to other services and I was doing that for three years and nothing was working. 

“I used to be very pessimistic and I remember the first few weeks of lockdown, I was speaking to Karen and she asked me ‘what are the chances of you having a normal life?’ and I told her ‘100%’. But months ago I wouldn't have said that. I’d be like ‘screw this I am going to kill myself’. 

“I want to be a psychologist and I know it’s going to be hard to get there, but I will get there. It feels crazy that I am taking these steps. I think I am so motivated and determined because I had to grow up pretty early,  I think I am pretty mature for my age. 

“Sometimes I hear people say things like ‘my life is ruined!’ and I don't think life is ever ruined, you can always do something, build it back up somehow. 

“There is the victim mentality and the survivor mentality. Karen asked me once if I was a victim and I told her ‘yes’. A survivor would say ‘yes this happened, but I will get better, I am helping myself and I can do this.’ Now I know I am very much a survivor. I think the only way to not get sucked into the victim mentality is to keep working and working and make yourself better because I think I can always be better.”