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Educating young people who are blind or vision impaired

Mental Health Awareness Week

Written by Sixth Form student and Marketing Intern, Amy.

From 9 – 15 May, the UK will be celebrating Mental Health Awareness Week – a week which aims to inspire action to promote messages of good mental health for everyone. The event has continued to grow each year with more and more focus being put on to mental health, and is now one of the biggest awareness weeks across the UK!

Last year, the theme given to the week was surrounding nature which was particularly important given the pandemic. This year’s theme is loneliness. This is because of the detrimental affect that the pandemic has had on people’s mental health and physical health since 2020; particularly as communities and connections with those communities are fundamental to a person’s health.

Many students at NCW have experienced or suffered with loneliness; one of the most common reasons for this is often their exclusion from wider school communities in mainstream settings. These feelings of loneliness and isolation only heighten the already increased chances of a blind or vision impaired person suffering with mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety.
Studies have shown that statistically one third of individuals with a vision impairment will suffer with mild depression.
45.2% of vision impaired individuals are suffering with moderate to severe depression compared with 16.6% of sighted individuals.

NCW is a place where students are able to feel included, feel part of a community and be amongst peers who have had similar experiences!

I spoke to some fellow NCW students about their experience with loneliness and mental health…     

"I always knew I was different from the students I went to school with. I felt very outcast from friendship groups as well as being included from certain subjects such as PE. This made me feel extremely isolated and alone, particularly as it appeared I was the only ‘odd one out’. I learnt to create a mask and hide away from the world pretending that everything was okay. Since coming to NCW I have come out of myself and have felt more understood. I have met some wonderful people both students and staff who always want to help and support me no matter what.”

Samih, Yr 13

"In my previous school, I had little to support me both socially and educationally which led me to feeling even more isolated and alone. I would often have to wait for work to be prepared whilst other students were working or I would just be taken out of lessons entirely. NCW has helped me advance socially by forming friendships, it has also helped me advance educationally making me feel included and listened to. NCW is a real community which has helped me thrive in the last few years!”

Amy, Yr 13+
Mental Health Awareness Week 2022

“In my old school I wasn’t bullied or discriminated against, but I did feel separated. Whilst the other students still hung out with me, and I did have some really good friends, I still felt different. The way they spoke to me was just different from how they would speak to their other sighted friends. By coming to NCW where everyone has similar vision to me I feel more open and comfortable talking to my friends, as they see and interact with the world in a similar way to me. I also find that in school, teachers and lessons are more adapted to suit my needs. Both of these things help me to feel less separated from my peers.”

Roman, Yr 8

“Before attending NCW I did suffer a lot with feelings of loneliness and isolation. In my previous school I was bullied for being vision impaired and would get called names. Being at NCW has helped me to understand that being vision impaired isn’t a bad thing. You can still make friends if you're VI and here at NCW I have been able to make friends more than I was able to in my old school. I am glad I have had that chance. I am also able to get involved in clubs such as Goalball and VI cricket. In my previous school I would shut myself off from everyone else and would keep how I felt inside, but here I have made good friends and have good relationships with teachers who I can talk to when I need to. NCW is a great community.”

Phoebe, Yr 9

"In my previous educational settings, I had great friends, however I did struggle a lot educationally which led me to feeling more isolated. I was taken out of lessons to do things like IT support and often wasn’t allowed to participate in certain lessons due to being blind. Some of my peer group would start making comments or simply wouldn’t talk to me because I would have a Teaching Assistant with me at all times. Coming to NCW has made me feel more included and accepted as I am not excluded from lessons and all of the adaptions I need are available."

Student, Yr 11
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