Published: 10:25, 16 April 2020
| Updated: 11:07, 16 April 2020
A man whose mother left when he was seven months old has opened up about his mental health journey.
Jake Symons, from Chatham, has battled depression for as long as he can remember.
Jake spoke to KentOnline about his ongoing battle with mental health and how the NSPCC helped turn his life around.
The 18-year-old said: "My mum left me when I was seven months old. She didn't want anything to do with me and I still don't know why. But she just decided to.
"Since she walked out on me, I've lived with my nan – on my father's side – and I've lived with her ever since. It's kind of been an always thing."
Jake suffered at the hands of bullies in primary school from Year 3 onwards, and even though he received more support during his time at The Math School in Rochester, the abuse persisted.
"I wouldn't cope. I didn't know what was going on. I was just crying a lot. I didn't want to go to school, I wanted to be home schooled, I wanted to move school, just anything to be somewhere else.
"I would come home and cry, for as long as I can remember. Before then I didn't really know what coping was, I just didn't know what was going on or how I felt."
At the age of 12, Jake ran away from home after he tried to contact his mum for support.
"Contact didn't go as planned. She didn't want anything to do with me and I ran away from home because I didn't want to be anywhere, not just not being at home but I didn't want to be anywhere."
It was at this point Jake began having suicidal thoughts and with nowhere else to turn, he reached out to the NSPCC.
"I was talking to the NSPCC on their live chat at the local library at the time. They said to call them, so I called Childline.
"I didn't want to be anywhere, not just not being at home but I didn't want to be anywhere."
"I was talking to someone about the bullying before on their live chat service, but when I ran away that was when I started calling them, which was when it went from sending a message and waiting for a reply to actually them on the phone being there for me."
The NSPCC says on average 67 children a day across the UK are receiving help from its Childline service as they struggle with suicidal thoughts and feelings.
In 2018/19, Childline delivered 24,447 counselling sessions to young people which is a three-year increase of 25%.
Childline's south east base in London delivered 3,638 of those counselling sessions to young people struggling with mental illness nationwide.
Jake continued: "I could just talk to ChildLine, rather than holding it in and having that definitely helped.
"I know it's repetitive, and everyone says so but if you are struggling, talk to someone. You say that to people and they say 'who do I talk to?'
"And that's when Childline comes in. At the early point I didn't have anyone, I wasn't known to mental health services and I wasn't having counselling.
"The NSPCC was really the only organisation that was there and I could actually go and talk to someone whenever I needed to and it has helped so much."
Jake is now pursuing a career in marketing and one day hopes to open his own firm.
He said: "Now I'm alright. I wouldn't use the word great because I still have low moments and that's never going to change.
"But I feel the place I am now is somewhere I didn't think I would ever get to.
"I always felt I would stay in my own place. Even though I would cope with it, I didn't think things would ever get better.
"I thought coming in from school and crying was going to be it. Nothing would actually improve from that.
"But it has, and I think that's helped a lot and realising that things do get better. When you start to see things getting better you start to believe it more."
In response to the sharp increase in the number of children and teens seeking support, the NSPCC has launched a nationwide campaign called KIDS In Real Life, urging the public to help them save a child's life.
The Twitter hashtag #KIDS_IRL highlights there are more ways than ever for children to hide how they really feel in a social-media dominated world.
Founder and president of Childline Esther Rantzen said: "This new campaign highlights that many of these profoundly unhappy young people hide their feelings to those around them online, bottling up their suicidal thoughts which may become overwhelming.
"Worryingly we don't have the resources to be there for every child who needs us, which is why it is so important the public get behind #KIDS_IRL and supports the NSPCC in their mission to be there for all the young people who reach out in their darkest hour."
The NSPCC is calling on people to show their support through a Pledge to Protect initiative and to make a donation to fund vital services like Childline.
A spokesman said: “The NSPCC is still here for the children who need us – and we’re needed more than ever. More children are reaching out to Childline worried about the coronavirus.
“With schools closed, many vulnerable children are at risk. And across the country, families are struggling to adapt to lockdown.
“That’s why we’re adapting to make sure we can be here.
“Sadly, home isn’t a safe place for every child. We need support to make sure we can still be here for children at risk of abuse.
“You can donate by visiting this link."
For confidential support on an emotional issue, call Samaritans on 116 123 at any time.