Sam Barakat is a passionate mental health campaigner and instructor. Having experienced depression from the age of 16, improving the lives of those who will experience mental illness is something close to her heart.
When she started experiencing mental health issues, she felt that she could not speak to anybody about it. She was unable to speak to teachers about the issues she was experiencing, due to the stigma the teachers had about mental illness, as well as the lack of confidentiality.
Despite displaying signs that she might be experiencing mental health issues, no one spoke to her about it. Through her time in school, she witnessed other people experiencing stigma against their mental illness. This made her less able to open up to those around her about the issues she was experiencing.
Although she went to Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS), the practitioners did not speak to her, and only spoke to her parents, meaning she never opened up about the issues she was having with depression.
The only support she was able to get was short term online counselling through a charity, which has since gone into liquidation. Although this helped, she did not notice an improvement in her mental health. In the year to follow, she experienced being suicidal twice, although was unable to speak to anybody about it. From her experiences, she is hoping for a better future for those who will experience mental illness.
She has since qualified as a Youth Mental Health First Aid instructor, with 97% good or very good feedback. She is also developing her own mental health courses, to cover a variety of topics.
Seeing the need to provide affordable and free of charge training to those who come into contact with young people, including parents and teachers, as well as to young people themselves, she has decided to set up a charity