PSHE KS3 / GCSE: The effect of being bullied - Ryan's Story
Narrated in first person, this film explores the impact of experiencing bullying and isolation in your community.
Ryan’s testimony is open and honest, and creates an intimate portrait into the impact of other people’s behaviour on an individual.
He understands the root of his mental health problems as a build up of various different things, most notably the (often racial) abuse, both physical and verbal, which he received at school.
Feeling out of place at school and at home, he had nowhere to turn and no one to talk to.
He stopped attending school and felt no solace at home, so his mental health only worsened, to the point where he was having suicidal thoughts.
He was eventually introduced to CAMHS (which is Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services), and found the help through the services they provide.
Ryan’s story tackles subjects many young people in the UK may experience, from bullying, experiencing racism, feeling isolated and being unsure of your own identity.
This film then acts as an important lens to how this feels, and how hard it can be to see where help can be found.
Ryan also struggled with opening up about his depression, and without a father figure in his life, he had no outlet for his emotions, and no understanding of how to manage them.
It is understood lots of young people, especially young men, find it hard to express their feelings/emotions or to feel valid when they do.
Ryan’s story is a testament to how important and life changing open conversations are to recovery.
This film can be seen as a springboard into the discussion of how important it is to feel able and safe enough to speak up.
Due to the sensitive nature of the subject matter, we strongly advise teacher viewing before watching with your pupils.
Key Stage 3
Start by discussing the use of avatars in gaming. Why are these used? Are they fun or can they be damaging? Do they encourage people to pretend to be who they are not? Do they encourage people to be out of touch with who they really are?
We all have different personas we use in different situations but Ryan built a totally false persona until he lost the grasp of who he really was.
Knowing who you are under the personas and being okay with who that real person is, is vital to good mental health.
Your pupils could draw and cut out two gingerbread people.
On one they could write or represent who they really are, on the other who they would like to be.
Then you could ask your pupils to place them close together or far apart according to how similar they are i.e. if your real self and your ideal self are the same then the gingerbread people should be on top of each other.
If they are very different the gingerbread people will be placed a distance away from each other. The gap in between usually identifies the level of self-esteem you have at that time.
You could ask your pupils: What could you do to help your real self and ideal self become better friends?
If Ryan had done this exercise what would his gingerbread people have looked like? Use this exercise to discuss how ‘lost’ Ryan became and what had caused this.
Think about who Ryan had to turn to and who would listen.
Discuss in groups the benefits of being able to express your emotions, even if it is just to one person.
Also discuss why not having a father present might have had an impact on Ryan and why this can be hard for lots of people who do not know both parents.
We would also suggest asking students to research the local and national support for people struggling with their mental health.
Key Stage 4
Use wooden blocks to construct a tower a brick at a time.
Give each student a wooden block and have them place their brick in the tower stating one thing they think contributed to Ryan’s decline in mental health.
When they have all placed their bricks, ask someone to describe what all these factors did to Ryan and then ask them to knock the tower down.
Remind them that Ryan said he felt like he was a tower and he collapsed and fell into himself. How must that have felt?
Rebuild the tower but this time each student places their brick stating one factor that could have changed or happened along Ryan’s journey to help him or change what happened e.g. who should have helped him with the bullying?
Ryan found a conversation was a really important part of his recovery.
Unpack why this is, and look into the reason why keeping your emotions bottled up can be damaging not only to mental health but ultimately also to physical health as these are linked.
Look into other therapies and counselling options which are available.
Discuss if women or men are more open about their mental health. If they are, why do you think this is?
This short film is suitable for teaching PSHE at KS3 and GCSE in England, Wales and Northern Ireland and Modern Studies at National 4 and 5 in Scotland.