On the 31st October 2018, I and three other young people took part in The Maudsley Debates in London. After a few weeks of preparation with Debating Mental Health, we were ready to present our cases. The motion was “this house believes that we should never detain under 18’s under the mental health act”.
I have to admit, I was quite nervous. I have done lots of public speaking before, and am usually really excited before speaking, but this felt different. I was scared about getting something wrong or being judged on what I say. I think a great skill of mine is being able to see both sides to an argument, so having to argue for only one side was a challenge. What’s more, we were allocated proposition or opposition, meaning that we didn’t necessarily agree with the side we were debating for.
However, it was a very empowering experience and I have learnt skills that I will most definitely continue to use. It helped me to get past the fear of being judged for what I say and it has given me a sense of freedom. I have come to realise that people have different opinions and that’s ok – everyone’s opinion is valid and should be respected. Additionally, I have learnt that it is ok to make mistakes and to get things ‘wrong’ – it’s how we learn! I have also met an inspiring group of young people with whom I share a passion to make a positive difference in the world of mental health and on a more general scale. These people have become good friends and I am proud of what they have achieved. They, too, have come a long way and have overcome hurdles that, not too long ago, felt impossible to face.
So despite feeling nervous leading up to the debate, I am glad that I faced my fears. I want to spread the message that it’s ok to feel scared and it’s ok to make mistakes. I encourage you today to do at least one thing that you find challenging. Pushing ourselves a little bit out of our comfort zones helps us to develop, and also allows us to build resilience. Even if it doesn’t work out the first time, you can always try again and soon, you will see little signs of progress.
Onwards and upwards,
Rose Anne x