My teacher opened up about his mental health. What happened next opened my own mind.


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The school day was dragging on as I watched the clock ticking and people walking down the hallway. I was exhausted, and ready to call my dad to take me home, but my friend convinced me we should go to our health science class.

We walked upstairs. With every step, I could hear my heart pounding, dreading the thought of sitting in a classroom for the next 60 minutes, hearing a teacher talking at me. 

That’s when I walked in and saw Mr. Foreman with a big smile on his face, greeting me.

“Hi Fiona! How’s it going?”

“Good,” I said with a slight smile.

My classmates and I were settling down to take notes, while everybody was still having their own conversations. Someone was talking about the basketball game that was coming up, while others were talking about Ramadan. We were in the same room and under the same roof, but all in different worlds.

Mr. Foreman was talking about mental disorders. Then he said something that made everyone stop and pay attention. 

“I actually have obsessive compulsive disorder.”

It felt as though I could hear the breeze around us changing, as if everyone realized the importance of that moment. 

Watch Fiona Babar’s video for the CBC Saskatchewan Creator Network on her teacher Andrew Foreman: 

High School teacher shares his OCD journey with grade 11 students

In this video for the CBC Creator Network, Grade 11 student Fiona Babar profiles her teacher Andrew Foreman, who has been open with his students about being diagnosed with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.

Andrew Foreman is my health science and environmental science teacher. He’s been teaching for the last 13 years. 

Mr. Foreman told us he had been diagnosed with obsessive compulsive disorder in 2015.

“For years, I kept it a secret. I remember being outside my classroom door sometimes and I would just be stuck there. I was very aware that students were watching me, probably wondering what’s wrong,” said Foreman.

He told us about one time he couldn’t walk into the building. He stood out in the rain for about 45 minutes before he could get himself to go inside to the classroom. 

“I was soaked,” he said. “I couldn’t tell what was rain and what was tears.”

A young woman in a hijab puts her head over a desk, while other students in a classroom smile while looking up at a person off camera.
Students in a Regina classroom listen to their teacher, Andrew Foreman, deliver a lesson. (Fiona Babar photo)

As a student, I often made the assumption that teachers can never understand what I am going through as a teenager. How could someone that stands at the front of a class and talk for seven hours a day possibly understand? In that moment, Mr. Foreman took down that wall between himself as a teacher, with his own personal struggles, and us as students.

In the past, I’ve felt like I couldn’t talk about my own mental health. People aren’t comfortable with the topic. It hit me how Mr. Foreman had changed the narrative and turned our classroom into a place where people could comfortably ask questions, and get answers in a real and honest way. 

“Mental health is like our physical health, some days we feel good physically, some days we don’t,” he later told me.

“Just like some people have serious health problems, some of us have mental health disorders that are more problematic, more frequent, than some people are used to.” 

I felt like I could understand what he meant. Sometimes what goes on in your head feels like it’s not even a part of this world, and you feel so different from everyone else. But it doesn’t matter if others don’t understand your state of mind – as long as you are at peace with it yourself. 

It takes one person to change your perspective. For me, that person was my teacher Andrew Foreman, who taught me it’s OK not to be OK. 

I’ve now learned to be that person for other people. He has forever impacted my life in a way that will extend far beyond the classroom.


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