A man looking t books on a shelf

It shouldn’t be a struggle to get help

Name – Ollie 

Bio – I have finished an employability programme with Barnardo’s, where I volunteered at a book shop. I want to be a writer.  

Sometimes helping yourself isn’t enough 

I’ve been struggling with my mental health since primary 6. When you’re a kid, most of the time you don’t know what’s happening. When I got to high school I learned about mental health and realised the sickly feeling in my stomach may have been depression. I’m glad that school teaches us about it. 

I had also found a YouTuber I liked, who talked about his own struggle with his mental health and depression, and I felt understood. After figuring out I may have depression, I did my own research and found ways to cope. I did things like talking to friends, breathing exercises, and distraction techniques.  

These weren’t enough. I needed other help.  

My friends, who have also struggled, listened, and said I should get some help. My parents have both dealt with mental health issues themselves, so they were good about it.  

I went to my GP and CAHMS (Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services) to begin with. I didn’t really want to go to CAHMS because they had long waiting lists, but I thought I might as well try.  

How it feels 

It’s rather scary looking for help when you have been struggling for a while.

The thought of getting better, is both exciting and terrifying. It makes you think about who you would be without it. It’s almost like struggling is part of you at this point.  

I was on a waiting list for months before CAHMS called to ask about my risk. I was basically told that I was not bad enough to help (at least not yet), and it hurt immensely. I didn’t want to prove myself and how bad I was feeling, but it makes you feel like you need to. I was lucky though because CAHMS referred me to Healios.  

Getting help 

Healios are a mental health, autism, and ADHD service. I did CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) for 5 months. I didn’t think it was the sort of therapy I needed because I knew all the coping strategies. The therapist was really nice and let me talk about other things though.  

My meetings were online which I preferred. For me being in the comfort of my own home, made it easier to open up.  

I talked to her about the fact that I was probably autistic, and she referred me for an assessment.  

Not taken seriously 

Getting mental health help when you are autistic is hard.

They just put the way you are feeling down to your autism.  And if you’re a young person, they just put it down to your teenage hormones.  

Barnardo’s help 

Skills development Scotland helped me when was at a work fair and I came across Barnardo’s. 

They helped me onto a course. It was 9 or so weeks long all together, and about getting information on what to do in a job, how money works, and how to act. Then you get a placement for a certain number of hours over a few weeks. You also get check-ins every week.  

I liked that they get you a placement in what you want to do. I want to be a writer, so the bookshop I worked in was good.  

Next steps 

I still struggle, I don’t know if there will be a time I don’t, but I know now, that’s perfectly okay. My friends and I talk about it, and we are all getting better, but as I said before we are terrified about who we are without struggling. You want to get better, but you also want to cling to it. This is okay, but I know in the long run getting better is what I need and want. 

I want to volunteer over summer then get a job. I’d like work in a bookshop. I am working on a novel at the moment. It’s a rewrite of something from when I was 8. I also draw so it’s nice to compare my progress. Writing is a great healthy escape for me, I hope one day to publish my book and give other kids a world to escape to. 

Autism• stress• friends