Mental illnesses are cause for bullying in our local schools
YEAR 10 student at Reynella East High School, Charlotte James, is subjected to bullying due to her severe anxiety and panic disorder, causing her to experience sudden panic attacks several times throughout her day.
On a daily basis Charlotte experiences cold sweats, muscle tension, shortened breath, an increase in heart rate as well as general fear when it comes to doing basic tasks.
At school, Charlotte will often have to leave the room or not be able to participate in certain activities with her peers due to her condition. As a result, she is bullied for her irregular behaviour.
“Students see me differently, they don’t understand what I have to deal with and as I walk past they will point at me and they’ll start laughing and whispering,” Charlotte James says.
“My teachers are supportive of my disorder which allows me to get out of certain activities like physical education and
The continuing stigma around mental illness is being demonstrated in Charlotte’s case by the
[INSERT PHOTO HERE]
bullying that she is faced with on a daily basis.
Charlotte was diagnosed with severe panic disorder three years ago. Prior to her diagnosis, Charlotte had many friends as well as a typical school life.
Charlotte’s mother, Sharon James, is mainly responsible for taking care of her daughter’s medical requirements. Sharon helps her daughter to manage with her heavy medication and the stresses of her demanding condition.
“There is a lot that goes on behind closed doors with an illness such as this. There are a lot of doctors’ appointments, psychologist appointments and new medication for charlotte to handle alongside school. No one would even know,” Sharon James says.
“I do believe because it isn’t a physical illness, no one can actually see anything wrong like a broken leg, that the students at her school don’t quite understand the severity of what Charlotte has to deal with in her own head.”
Alongside the stress of being bullied at school, Charlotte’s family has to deal with the financial pressures of maintaining continuous treatment.
This debilitating condition, although not physically apparent, is a medical condition just like any other. The stigma does not stop with high school bullying, but also affects her family’s financial stability due to Charlotte’s condition not being fully recognised as a disorder.
“It’s difficult because I work full time and have a mortgage to pay… I also have to run around to look after my daughters wellbeing and that puts a strain on my career as well as family life,” Sharon James says.
“Both my husband and myself work full time, we don’t get any compensation for the psychologist appointments and the several medicines that Charlotte has to take.”
Not only is Charlotte suffering from anxiety but this is also known to flow into other mental illnesses such as depression. Being bullied on top of this is worrying not only to Charlotte but to other people in her situation who are being subjected to bullying.
School Bullying Feature Reflection
As this project requires me to write two different news stories, I thought it would be interesting to experiment with setting out my first news story out as a news feature. I had decided to write my news feature on the stresses of school bullying. I had managed to find a fifteen-year-old girl from Reynella East High School who is dealing with being bullied at high school due to her severe panic disorder. I was really interested in the reason for why she was being bullied, and decided that it was news worthy to write about her particular experience with bullying as there are many other people who have to deal with this due to the stigma of mental illnesses.
Conducting this interview was relatively easy for me as the girl I was interviewing was a friend of my sisters. I had familiarised myself with her in an attempt to make her comfortable and open up to my questions in the interview. This interview turned out to be the one that was being filmed, so I had to make sure that she felt comfortable enough to proceed. We sat down on a couch, facing each other. I tried as best as I could to make the interview light-hearted so I paced myself when asking the questions so that she didn’t feel rushed in answering them. Also, I tried to make the interview seem more of an informal conversation more so than a formal interview as she is just a teenager. Overall, the interview was a success, I had all of my questions answered and she was very co-operative throughout the whole process.
Q. Hi, Thank you for joining me here today. My name is Nina Tonkin, and I’m from UniSA’s On The Record. To start off, could I just get your details please?
A. Yes, my name is Charlotte James, and I’m currently a Year 10 student at Reynella East High School.
Q. To my understanding, you suffer from a mental disorder, a panic disorder. I believe that it’s quite severe. Could you just give me a rundown of how your daily life at school would be like dealing with this disorder?
A. Yes, well I’ve had this disorder for about three years now, and every year it’s been a bit more harder to cope with. Socially and educationally, it’s been really hard as I would get at least seven sudden panic attacks. It’s really difficult, especially in the classroom where you’re supposed to be learning and sitting there, and being around a whole heap of people. That enough for me is just really intense, so it’s really hard to handle in my daily life.
Q. So you feel that bullying plays into it a bit, so you get bullied from the students because of the disorder?
A. Yes, as I said, they see me differently. As I would walk past, they would point at me, and they would start laughing and whispering. It’s not easy, because as I said, I’m just like everyone else, I just can’t really handle things the same.
Q. So, you’re talking about being bullied because of being diagnosed with your disorder. How was your social standing with your peers before the diagnosis?
A. Before my disorder, I’ve been doing well in school, and good socially. Ever since my disorder, people would laugh at me and see me differently. They wouldn’t really understand what I’m currently going through.
Q. Okay, that is all we have time for today. Thank you so much for your time and sharing your experience.
A. Thank you for having me.
Working in pairs, each student is required to submit: 1. Two news or news feature reports (500-word maximum per story) 2. Reflective pieces for each news report similar to that for Assignment 2 (but with a 250-word maximum per reflection) 3. A video file of ONE of the interviews used in writing the reports, for each reporter. This can be shot on phone camera and should include close-ups of the interviewer and of the source, and a two-shot. The video should be no longer than two minutes. (For this, I’ll be in charge of recording my interview. For my video, please list some questions that I will ask my interviewee, and include answers to those questions). This should be about 320 words, as the video will go for two minutes. 4. A 200-word piece from your cameraperson reflecting on the performance and reactions of the cameraperson, the source and the interviewer leading up to, during and after the interview. This is to be submitted by the interviewer; it is the interviewer’s responsibility to obtain this from the cameraperson and submit it. (See the example I’ve uploaded). *You could maybe do a human interest story, for example, the person’s experience with bullying. As long as it’s something realistic, believable, and local (I’m from Adelaide)* Relevant References: https://www.amazon.com/So-You-Want-Journalist-Unplugged/dp/1107692822 Lamble, Stephen, (2013), News As It Happens: An Introduction To Journalism, 2nd Edition, OUP, South Melbourne.