Mental health continues to become a main concern in society today, with around one in four people experiencing mental health problems each year.
Over the next five days, Salford Now will take a look into different walks of life and how mental health affects us in different ways.
According to a recent survey, in 2017 around one third of mothers experienced mental health issues, along with 17% of fathers.
Alice Beardsley, who was 18 when she fell pregnant, knows this all too well. She was in a long-term relationship with the father of her child, after being told she was not able to conceive.
“I was having a few health problems at the time, one of the things they checked for would’ve meant that I couldn’t have children” she says, “It turned out that wasn’t the case, I went home that day and found out I was actually pregnant, so it was a big shock, I hadn’t thought about it and it really messed me up”.
According to Lesley Hoggart, associate head of school, school of health, wellbeing and care at the Open University: “One in 60 women in the UK will experience an unplanned pregnancy every year”.
As Alice sits in her home in Barnsley, cup of tea in hand, she tells of how supportive her friends and family were when she broke the news. However, it was not always an easy ride for the young parent. She begins to tell me of her troubled childhood and teenage years, dealing with anxiety and anger issues.
When Alice was attending secondary education, she was permanently excluded from three schools, before landing outside of mainstream education.
“I wasn’t the best behaved at school and I caused a lot of issues with the choices I made. I made a lot of mistakes, made a lot of wrong choices. I had a lot of anger and anxiety issues as well. I had problems going on at home, which in turn caused problems at school.”
“I feel the schools gave up on me. I think with the right help I could’ve sorted things a long time ago, and not left school with basically nothing. I don’t think there was enough support for me. I know that I made those choices but I definitely think there needs to be more support for children, and professionals not giving up at the first hurdle.”
As she tells me of her upbringing, her eyes begin to wander as a sense of regret begins to overcome her attitude.
She then tells me of how she would throw chairs around classrooms, and how she isolated herself from friends and family. “I think the worse it got was when I had a friend who owed me money. Obviously, I didn’t like that so I took it to her place of work and caused trouble in the shop that she worked in. It resulted in the police being called. For me, the way I acted, made me realise how I was being, and was the wakeup call that I needed to sort myself out”.
A study conducted in 2017 revealed that 36% of all prosecutions in England and Wales were young adults.
Alice’s anger issues caused relationships with friends and family to break down. She says this is partly due to how she perceived relationships growing up. At the age of 12, her parents had divorced, and she says “there always seemed to be something going on”.
“I witnessed a few things as a child which weren’t nice for anyone to go through. My parents divorced, my mum had a few failed relationships, I wasn’t really speaking with my Dad.”
Alice moved out of the family home aged just 16. After seeking help from a councillor however, she says it did not really help. “I feel I was telling her what she wanted to hear, rather than what I needed to tell her. That’s when I turned to friends instead. I think it was a year later, when I was 17 I made the decision to start a new life away from where I spent my whole life. It was the best decision I ever made”.
At the age of 18, Alice gave birth to her son, George, which had a huge improvement on her mental health. With a now optimistic smile embracing her face, she said “all those anger and anxiety issues that I had just went away and I was just focussed on being a Mum. I had those problems when I was younger but I thought I wasn’t going to let those problems that affected me as a child effect my child now”.
As Alice moved away from her home town, and subsequently her friends, the relationship between her and the child’s father broke down. “It was quite upsetting losing those friends, I did feel isolated and alone, I still don’t have any contact with them or any friends in the area I live”.
It’s something that is becoming all too common as 25% of young mothers said they felt lonelier since having children.
In attempts to move on from her troubled past, the young parent expresses ambitions of finding a future in hairdressing and placing George into early stages of childcare.
“When I was younger I felt a lot of anger, I sorted things out by talking to friends and moved on from that bad place I was in. If I was speaking to my younger self, I would say be honest with how you feel, and find help if you need it. Just be straight up with your feelings and tell people what’s going on. And to anyone in my situation of being a single parent, then just work on that. Make you two the priority”.
If you are affected by any of the issues raised above, help and support is available.
Join us tomorrow for our second feature of Is The World Going Mental?: My Gay Russian Double Life