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Mental Health: What does it mean to you?

When someone says, “I’ve been diagnosed with depression”, what do you think? Do you see them in a different way? Do you panic? Do you find it awkward? Or, perhaps, you want to help them. That’s what we want to do.

Since mid-September, when our campaign was launched, we have been trying to raise awareness about Mental Health issues ; trying to remove some of the stigma and trying to help people.

Here are some shocking statistics. One in four people over the age of fifteen will suffer from issues with mental health issues this year. That’s a quarter of the adult population – so 12.7 million people! This can range from the minor to the very serious, but we need to try and help all of these people. We cannot let people suffer in silence any more.

We, as part of our campaign, are running a presentation with the Sixth Form Society (we will be bringing cakes). We will also be running coffee mornings and selling badges to raise money for our cause. The aforementioned presentation took place on Friday the 7th November. Elizabeth O’Leary and I delivered the presentation at the Sixth Form Society in Lab 8 at lunchtime. Although some people have come and told me of their stories since then, I cannot write about them as it is confidential information.

Mental illness is very common and many people do not realise just how common it is. Many famous people, both living and dead, have and are suffering with mental illness. For example, the late (and great) Robin Williams, the wonderful Stephen Fry, the hilarious Jim Carrey, the fabulous Catherine Zeta Jones and the world famous J.K Rowling.

Many teenagers suffer in silence. With our campaign we are trying to raise awareness of the many issues people suffer with in modern society and the fact that it is a common illness and that it is nothing to be ashamed of.

Has the Internet Killed Reading?

You can almost see the complainer now. She’s an old woman, whose experience of young people today comes solely from what she sees on the news and she has a habit of referring to mobile phones as ‘thingummies.’ Her aggravation about the internet and, more importantly, about the ‘youth of today’ is that we spend too much time on the internet and not enough time reading, or learning, or playing outside. The reason we don’t play outside, any teenager will tell you, is because we constantly get accused of loitering and unsettling people, because we supposedly hang around in gangs and smoke and kill things, despite the fact that in the majority of cases this couldn’t be further from the truth. When any group of teenagers goes outside, we’re usually looking for the quickest way to get back inside. Mainly so we can play on the internet, but not just to melt our brains or play mindless games. No, we are glued to the internet simply because of how much we have to learn!

What many people forget is that this generation is learning and reading more than any generation before it! The only thing that has changed is the media through which this information is provided to us. In years gone by, if you want to learn about something, you had to go out to the library, take out a book and look it up. Now, we can look it up, we can read about it on a small device right there at our fingertips. This hasn’t stopped us learning, how could it possibly stop us learning? In fact, I would venture to argue that we are learning so much more. If I went to the library to take out a book to learn about, let’s say, the digestion cycle, then the only thing I am going to learn is what that particular book has to tell me on that particular issue. With the internet, with blog sites and forums, we can learn so much more. We have a wider array of knowledge, a greater number of facts, organised in a far more structured, easily chartable format. This isn’t even touching on the added benefit of serendipity. The internet allows us to share anything we are interested in. If you’ve just read an article on Shakespeare and you find it interesting, you can share it on Facebook or tweet about it and suddenly, all your friends can see it too. They weren’t expecting to see it, they weren’t planning on learning anything about Shakespeare as they scrolled through social media whilst avoiding doing their homework, but they did, and they have learned something. Information can be spread so much faster, to so many people so quickly, that it is impossible not to learn.

There are those who state that the internet has killed Newspapers and novels. They claim that young people’s attention spans are so small that all they can truly comprehend, all they can process, is a short burst of information expressed in 140 characters or less. Newspapers, supposedly, are a lost art that no one cares about anymore. Supposedly nobody reads because we’re all too busy tweeting about how old fashioned our parents are because they talk about something called a ‘book.’ There are two major arguments in response to these people. The first is a casual reminder of a song from their youth: ‘Video killed the Radio Star.’ People seem to forget that as television developed from the one channel wonder it used to be, everyone was terrified that this marked the death of radio. Nowadays, radio stars like Chris Moyles and Scott Mills are literally worshipped! Why? They changed their format, they developed along with the times, and they survived. The news is doing the same thing. BBC news even has an app, which updates itself regularly allowing anyone who is of a mind to keep abreast of world affairs as they are happening. No one is disinterested in the news, they simply don’t take it in paper form anymore. There’s nothing wrong with this! If nothing else it saved a few trees!

Blogger Zoella, of whom I’m sure most of you are aware, recently wrote a book claiming she wanted to bring people back to reading and publicise it. There are so many things wrong with this. Firstly, it was later revealed the book was ghost written, which completely discredited her, but more than this there was absolutely no need. Despite our ‘fixation’ on the internet, we still read novels! When the Kindle was invented, the first thing that happened was many of the great pieces of literature, Shakespeare, Dickens, Austen and Wilde were converted to PDF files and given away FOR FREE! Then the Kindle app came out, so we could have these novels on our phones! Suddenly, these works of fiction are widely available. More than that, doesn’t it say something about us that this was our first thought? We turned straight to the classics, because the interest in novels hasn’t waned, not even slightly, our interest in paper has dissipated. Beyond this, the logic of the internet still applies. We don’t need to just read the classics anymore. In actual fact, there’s more being published now than ever before too!

It’s not just works approved by publishers either. We took to self-publishing, to writing fanfictions and posting them on blogs, to broadcasting our stories and publishing private diaries for the interest of the population. This isn’t to say the novel is obsolete, but it is merely one of thousands of ways to tell a story. This is, when you think about it, an extension of the natural process of things. Stories started off as oral tales around a campfire, then they were recorded on scrolls, followed by books, then novels were serialised in the papers, then came the age of the paperback. Now, we have the information age. Why not publish your books on the internet? Serialise them in blog form, publish them whole on the apple app store, it doesn’t matter. If you’ve got a story to tell, it’s easy to get it out there.

Believe me, we’ll still be there to read it.

STOKE WARS

STOKE WARS: EPISODE VII- THE GIRL WHO FELL FOR A WOOKIE

Stoke-on-Trent. “The comic capital of the World”…just kidding, it’s nowhere near as important as the almighty San Diego Comic Convention. However, surprisingly, this quaint hometown convention rustled up a large amount of attention. From towering males dressed in storm trooper outfits, to ‘kawaii’ (cute) anime cosplayers (nerds dressing up in colourful characters from stereotypical TV shows such as ‘Star Trek’). This colourful convention attracted people of many varieties to say the least.

This ‘small town’ convention started off with a monstrous queue, stretching from Staffordshire University’s Entrance right down to Hanley Town Centre! Needless to say, there was going to be quite a wait for those who didn’t pre-order tickets, (but obviously I came prepared with an indestructible entry band). But despite the wait, when I entered that wonderland of amazingness, I was instantly stunned by the audacious culture and variety within. It was a veritable feast for the eyes!

Young aspiring artists selling comics they had created themselves, famous comic icons holding ‘meet and greets’ and  fantastically varied merchandise that it was absolutely impossible to resist. Could you?! I came home with approximately three thousand badges, a humorously and fabulously geeky ‘Big Bang Theory’ T-shirt and a particularly spectacular pocket mirror, replete with original anime artwork. I honestly could not find a single fault with this set up. The only possible down side might be that I was at severe risk of coming home bankrupt due to my compulsion to want to buy everything in sight. I just didn’t have the cash. If I wasn’t a poverty-stricken student however…..

The whole experience of this convention left me in awe. It really is an experience I didn’t want to miss out on. I mean seriously, who doesn’t love being hugged by a wookie?

Spirited Away…Hayao Miyazaki

Hayao Miyazaki is a phenomenal artist; Miyazaki lives for storytelling, animation, adventure and the most vibrant of colours!

The multi-Oscar winning artist is an inspiration to many, including me. Breath-taking films such as ‘Spirited Away’ and ‘Howls Moving Castle’ opened our minds to possibilities unimaginable! His gripping tales never allow for even a moment’s boredom.

Born January 5th 1941, in Bunkyō Tokyo, Japan. Miyazaki has been dubbed as: film director, animator, screenwriter, illustrator and a manga artist. Even now, at the age of 73, Miyazaki continues to bring colour into the dimmest of places. Although retired now, Miyazaki had a long and prosperous career from 1963 to 2013. In that short amount of time, Miyazaki was involved with over 18 successful films.

Miyazaki was inspired by his surroundings, nothing ever seemed to dull for Hayao, in a recorded lecture, he explained what inspired him most: ‘he recalled how the fires had coloured the night sky. (Hayao Miyazaki’s Lecture record). As well as positive influences, Miyazaki was born at a time where great conflict gripped the globe, culminating in nuclear bombings of Japan. Miyazaki was exposed to such horrific sights at such a young age therefore influencing his genre of film, all Miyazaki films show elements of war and conflict.

Why should you watch Miyazaki films? The real question is why shouldn’t you watch Miyazaki’s films? Vibrant colours, imaginative characters and soul searching stories! Take ‘Spirited Away’ for example; a young girl named Chihiro is forced to move away. Her parents stumble across a Japanese type fair ground; there they find the smell of freshly made goods. As Chihiro watches her parents chow down on the Japanese delights, her parents are transformed right before her eyes! Transformed into nothing more than common pigs! To get her parents back to their normal human selves, Chihiro steps into the realm of spirits, from here on out she would be known as, Sen. Stripped away of everything she owns, including her name she is in desperate attempt to get her parents back to normal, Sen earns the trust of the spirits and works at the spiritual baths, in which she works herself to the bone…interested in finding out the final outcome? You’ll have to pull up a chair and grab a bag of popcorn and go binge on the visual delight that is spirited away!