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Georgia’s story: Ending the stigma

9 Sep 2019

All the way from beginning to end, I have thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience of Jack Petchey’s “Speak Out” Challenge! and the training! Our workshop day at my school was filled with fun activities, which were extremely helpful for each of us to encourage each other to gain the confidence to speak in public.

I remember hearing the nervousness in my voice and the shake in my hands whilst I was delivering my speech in front of only about 30 people – who I knew very well. I was so surprised to have been chosen out of my class to speak in front of my whole year group at an Assembly Final, about something I struggle to talk to my own parents and therapist about. The thought of it frightened me and I debated whether or not to go through with it; until I thought to myself that the message I want to get across is important since 90 of the 360 people I would perform in front of, would be suffering with their mental health.

Looking back, I’m so glad I decided to speak out since many people that I would have never thought were suffering opened up to me about the struggles they had been facing – claiming that my speech had really helped them. If I had decided not to deliver my speech, I never would have come as far as I have by being lucky enough to achieve Runner-Up position at the Grand Final!

All day leading up to the moment I walked onto the stage at the Cambridge Theatre, I had to battle the voice of anxiety in my head telling me all the possible things that could go wrong and every reason why I shouldn’t. Ironically, speak out about my anxiety and depression. Achieving gave me a major sense of strength. I hope that my message can raise further awareness and contribute to completely ending the stigma by breaking the barriers between us, so we can see and understand those suffering below the surface of our society.

The last workshop preparation came a week before the Grand Final; I relieved a lot of tension by making friends with the other speakers and going over the top tips for public speaking. I really feel it’s so important that young people get chances like this where they can freely express themselves and speak in front of people, such as students and teachers in assemblies all the way to TV presenters, actors and professional public speakers in the Cambridge Theatre! I am grateful to Speakers Trust and the Jack Petchey Foundation who made all of this experience possible. I can see a massive boost in my own personal confidence. From being scared to speak in front of only 30 people on my first day of training, to at the end of it, being able to confidently speak on a stage in front of almost 1,000 people!

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed this whole experience from start to finish and now I feel more open to taking on new challenges in the future. “Speak Out” Challenge! has shown me that “if you believe you can, you can” just as Sir Jack Petchey says.

Written by Georgia Hunt

Our Mental Health playlist highlights the experiences some of our speakers have shared. To watch them now just scroll down.