Harrogate campaigner, 18, launches petition calling for all schools to have a mental health support system
When it comes to raising awareness of mental health, there isn't a mountain that 18-year-old Chloe Bellerby wouldn't climb - even Mount Everest...
Just when you thought Chloe had pushed herself to the limit, having already walked more than 220 miles from Leeds to London to raise more than Â£10,000 for Mind last year, she's set to take on Everest in March, for the same important charity - and with the same ambitious fundraising target.
And if that's not enough, Chloe, who is originally from Harrogate, has launched a petition this week calling on the Government to ensure that every single school in the UK has a mental health support system in place, having attempted to take her own life twice at the age of 16.
Chloe is passionate about helping others, and has been tireless in her campaigning to prevent other young people reaching the same heartbreaking point that she did. In fact, she's even taken her message out into schools across the region - giving talks to teachers and pupils sharing her story and emphasising the importance of talking about mental health and being able to access support at the earliest possible opportunity.
Highlighting the importance of being able to have support in schools, Chloe said it was her PE teacher at Rossett School, Ricky O’Sullivan, who she felt able to open up to when she had been planning another suicide attempt. His kindness and listening ear helped Chloe to turn her life around, and she is now living in New Jersey completing a prestigious football scholarship.
Chloe said: "Teachers are the people who will save lives. If we can get this petition discussed in Parliament, hopefully something will change. When I talked to Mr O'Sullivan, I felt like the biggest weight in the world had been lifted off my shoulders. He went the extra mile to understand and help.
"Mental health is being spoken about more in schools, but there can still be that stigma of people thinking it's all in your head, or it's not real. Because you can't see it, it can be hard for people to understand it. I felt embarrassed and ashamed about the way I was feeling - I was quite popular in school and known for sport, I thought people would think, what's she got to be depressed about?
"Suicide rates will increase even further, especially among young people if nothing is done, and schools are a good place to start."
Reports from leading mental health charities highlight that suicide is the biggest killer of young people in the UK. Chloe said early intervention in schools is key.
She said:"I spent months on end self-harming and battling my own mind, and genuinely believing the world would be a better place if I wasn’t in it. My story isn’t rare, and unfortunately, young people right across the UK have nowhere to turn to for support in school, simply because there isn’t a mental health support system in place and not enough teachers are mental health trained, therefore aren’t equipped to help."Teachers want to help, but currently do not have the time, the resources or the training to support students struggling with their mental health. This is something that has got to change. Early intervention is key in preventing young suicides every single day."