Mental Health Education Needs to be Compulsary in Schools

Mental Health Education Needs to be Compulsary in Schools

Mental health education needs to be compulsory in schools.

With everyone talking about the phenomenon that is the book turned Netflix drama 13 Reasons Why, the spotlight has finally been placed on the subject of youth mental health. The story portrays the harsh reality of teenage suicide and how school can play a huge role in a young person’s mental wellbeing.

After all, school is where children spend the majority of their day for 5 days a week. It is the place a sense of identity is created and adulthood is prepared for. Friendships are made and relationships form. The ladder of popularity and achievement and the repercussions of judgement can define a young person’s life. Social exclusion, exam stress, friendship conflicts and bullying will all affect a child’s wellbeing dramatically. Especially in today’s world where you’re expected to plan your whole life by 16, social media is thriving and cyberbullying is on the rise.

So why are we not teaching children the importance of the health of their wellbeing?

Mental health should be valued equally alongside physical activity, academic achievement and future prospect. Physical education lessons are compulsory in the school curriculum in the UK, where the importance of healthy eating and exercise is taught. So why isn’t mental health education compulsory alongside physical?

Statistically, 3 children in each classroom have a diagnosable mental health problem, with 1 in 4 under 18’s experiencing suicide thoughts. In the past couple of years, there has been a 70% increase in cases of self harm amongst 10-14 year olds in Britain.

When I was young, I was secretive about how I was feeling as I didn’t know any different so I had no clue what was wrong with me. The only in-depth conversation I had about mental health with a teacher was during my psychology A-level at college. Maybe if the subject of mental health was introduced to me at primary school, I may not be going through what I do today.

We should be teaching children how to cope with stress and change. How to understand their thoughts and emotions and recognising when and how to ask for help. Schools need to do more than read symptoms off an outdated worksheet or put a tiny flyer about the school counsellor on a bulletin absolutely no one will look at. We need to teach young people the importance of their mental health, the realities of mental illness, stigma and misconceptions, treatment options and how they should not feel weak or ashamed.

A childhood is every person’s starting line. It is a time that can define the rest of your life. By teaching mental health education in schools, this could increase early diagnosis which may decrease the mental illness worsening and could improve quality of life in adulthood. It could literally be the difference between life and death.

Mental health education in schools would save lives.

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10 Comments

  1. 22/08/2017 / 21:53

    Hi Megan’s I’m just watching the documentary and wanted to congratulate you for being so brave. I suffer with depression and anxiety and it is thanks to people like you that we will end the stigma one day. Keep fighting lovely girl 💪❤️ xx

  2. 25/05/2017 / 18:47

    Hi Meg. Excellent post. I’ve been standing for this for a long time. I would caution, however, that we can’t just mandate it.

    We can’t put mental health as just another curriculum to be taught. Most teachers do not have extensive training in this area and traditional teaching methods are unlikely to make much difference.

    Instead, we need to recognize that teachers and learning communities need to be empowered to engage in learning together about how to include mental health instruction in really meaningful ways.

    Some schools are experimenting with this already. They are bringing mindfulness practices into schools, for example.

    Thanks for the post.

  3. 21/05/2017 / 19:30

    I completely agree! If discussions around mental health and well-being become part of the curriculum then perhaps it will become easier for people to talk about and reduce the overall stigma, misunderstanding, or possible fear that some people have around this topic.

  4. 21/05/2017 / 12:32

    As someone who experienced some pretty traumatic things during childhood – and as a result developed mental health disorders as a teen (maybe earlier), I feel education would have helped me a great deal.

    Really love this, I hope we won’t have to post about it one day and it will just be the norm.

    x

    • Meg Burchell
      21/05/2017 / 17:46

      Thank you so much!

  5. Lulu Blue Ⓥ (@LuluDigitale)
    14/05/2017 / 20:18

    Once again, great post Meg! I agree 100% and even add that this isn’t a new issue, governments haven’t done much anywhere about it, since I was in a school back in the 80’s of the previous century where there was 0 awareness that I was being bullied, nor about my home abuse and domestic violence… All of it was totally missed! In retrospect, I know I was putting out all the damn classic red alert signals that should have tipped everyone off. So, for me, not only students must be taught, but also personnel, everywhere – how to spot, what to say and do, how to help.

    The entire system needs to change, to admit there are other ways of teaching and learning, and not push that competition and stress at everyone but to treat everyone as individuals, not robots who must know what carrer they want when they are 16 when they don’t even know what meal to eat that evening (ok, it’s a caricature, but, I still make my point). I do know, my views are quite utopic, like on other subjects.

  6. 14/05/2017 / 18:29

    I couldn’t agree more!

  7. 14/05/2017 / 17:24

    As a teacher I totally agree with your points!

  8. Matt
    14/05/2017 / 17:24

    Very well put yet again. I mention very briefly in one of my posts; and I don’t want to get into something with others but religion is taught in schools. Yes, I’m a atheist but to be taught religion and not mental health, I find unacceptable! Worries me more now because I’ve a little one myself (and I worry she’ll end up like me)

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