PSHE KS4: Matthew - Living with anxiety
28-year-old Matthew from Swansea describes what it is like to struggle with anxiety and meets HRH the Duke of Cambridge to discuss his experience.
He explains how his anxiety affects many parts of his life, but that many people don’t realise this as he often tries to hide it.
Matthew discusses the importance of reaching out for help with your mental health and the significance of talking to somebody about it.
Matthew meets HRH the Duke of Cambridge and discusses his anxiety and how he thinks mental health could be better supported within grassroots football clubs.
This film is suitable for 14-16 year olds, but because it addresses some challenging issues we strongly advise making yourself very familiar with the content before using it and considering carefully whether it will be appropriate and suitable for your specific cohort.
Check class records to see if any of your class have any mental health issues or have personal/lived experience of the topics raised, and consider the best action/support for them in advance.
Check Government guidance on teaching about mental health along with your school policies to make sure you follow these guidelines/protocols and talk to a member of the SLT if you are in doubt about anything before you teach.
Whether you choose to lead a discussion, do an activity or a combination of both, always start your session by setting up a working agreement with the class. Creating a list of rules will make sure everyone feels safe and able to talk and join in without being judged.
Points for discussion
Why didn’t Matthew talk to anyone the first time he realised he was struggling with his mental health? (He says, ‘The first time when I realised that I was going through this it was like tough, because I didn’t know what was going on, I thought I was going crazy, I didn’t talk to my friends about it, I thought am I going a bit mad.’)
How many other reasons can you think of that might have stopped him (or others) from doing this straight away? (E.g. fear of being judged or laughed at, worrying people might treat him differently or not want to hang around with him.)
What support was available to Matthew? (His friends and family)
Why did he choose to talk to his friends before his family? (He says, ‘I didn’t talk to my family first about it. I talked to my friends first about it. Then I opened up to my family… they don’t understand and, yeah my Mum and dad get it now but then you go to my nan and grandad and they’re like, oh come on mate, this was nothing back in the day. And I’m like, well, that’s the problem.’)
Who would you talk to first if you had a similar experience with your mental health to Matthew? Why? (If appropriate they could have a chat with their friends now to see if they would be OK with them talking to them about mental health if they needed to in the future.)
Before you show the film ask the class to write or draw someone with a mental health problem. Do not give them any further direction. This will be a good assessment of their understanding regarding mental health along with any stereotypes or myths they might have about mental health. Show the film then ask them if they would have drawn someone like Matthew? You could go on to say that we don’t normally think people who are, as Matthew describes himself, ‘the life and soul of the party…full of life and a happy person’ to be someone suffering from anxiety. (Remind them that he didn’t even understand why he got anxiety – ‘You start getting anxiety from something you don’t understand, then it throws you off, it throws you off your path, you’re like this isn’t meant to happen to me.’) What can we learn from this? What can we change about ourselves now we know this? Pupils could go on to create instructions for their future selves for what to do if they feel their mental health isn’t good.
Matthew says, ‘People are afraid to admit that they have mental health problems and there is a stigma around it.’ Stigma can be the reason why many people don’t ask for help. Handout dictionaries and research what the word stigma means. Pupils then use the internet to research more about the stigma around mental health and think about how our society can change this. (Prepare in advance a list of reputable websites to visit for this activity to make sure they are only visiting safe websites and getting correct information.) They could pull this research together by writing a letter to the head teacher or their local MP with their ideas on how to end stigma.
At the end of the film Matthew says ‘I think men think they’re invincible and they’re not, we’re just normal people, we’re not this hard man who thinks they can conquer the world, we’re just soft inside like everyone else and we need to talk…’ Pupils create, design and label a new and real superhero based on a real man whose power is to talk and to be open.
At the end of the discussion/activity, always check in with the group to make sure they are OK, revisit the working agreement and remind them to talk to someone if anything they have seen in the film or discussed has made them feel uncomfortable. Finally, always signpost where they can get further support or information both within and outside of school. ChildLine is there for people right up to the age of 19 for support. Students can also find out more about Heads Together and find links to further support on their Get support page.)
These lessons will fit within:
Relationships Education, Relationships and Sex Education (RSE) and Health Education in England
Curriculum for Wales, Health and wellbeing in Wales*
The Curriculum for Excellence, Health and wellbeing in Scotland
Northern Ireland Curriculum, Learning for life and work in Northern Ireland