A petition launched by Headucation UK to make Mental Health education compulsory in primary and secondary schools has reached over 80,000 signatures.
The petition (which you can sign here) will need to reach 100,000 signatures by the 3rd May 2017 for it to be considered for debate in Parliament.
In response to the launch of the petition, the Goverment said: “We want mental health to be an everyday concern in all institutions.
Schools should decide how to teach pupils about mental health developing their own curriculum to reflect the needs of their pupils.”
Research carried out by the UK’s leading young people’s mental health charity, YoungMinds have shown that even though one in every fifth child under the age of 11 experiences a mental health difficulty, mental health education is only taught sporadically in the UK, and only in secondary schools.
Patrick Gardiner, 21 has suffered from depression for a number of years.
He said: “I found it very hard to ask people for help, because of the stigmas surrounding mental health, and especially mental health in young men.”
I think awareness about mental health is starting to grow, and it’s getting better, but there’s still serious stigmas around this which make people suffer in silence, or make people feel as though their mental health isn’t a serious or worthwhile problem.”
Finnian Nulty Oldfield, 19 also highlighted the difficulty men in particular face when talking about their mental health.
“It’s about ending the stigma around men’s mental health, we need to move away from mental health discussions being perceived as weak and steer the national conversation towards mental health as a natural issue.”
Tina Hignett, teacher at Our Lady’s Primary School in Widnes, noted that all primary schools are obligated to teach PSHE, focusing on personal, social and health education.
Mrs Hignett went on to explain that mental well being comes into these lessons. She said: “Several years ago there was a document called ‘Social and Emotional Aspects to Learning’, which looked at incorporating an emotional literacy into the curriculum. ”
The language we use however would be age appropriate.”
Being a ‘faith’ school also helps since we have a duty to explore the spiritual side of existence. What people believe, why we’re here, what moral code we live by etc.”
Chloe Birmingham, 19, who suffers from anxiety, believes the government should give teachers and schools better training on dealing with mental illness.
“I think children and young people should be taught the signs of mental illness in themselves and in their friends and family.”
A poll ran on twitter showed that 89% of people answered “not well at all” to the question “how effectively were you educated about mental health in school”, compared to the 3% that answered “really well”.
In an interview with metro.co.uk, Adam Shaw, Co-Founder of the Shaw Mind Foundation, who started the campaign said that “making mental health education compulsory, and making looking after mental wellbeing as important as academic success and physical fitness, could change the world for the better.”
Mr Shaw noted that “the ultimate objective must be to create an environment where mental health is valued alongside academic achievement and physical activity.
This is essential for young people and their families, and the whole of society.”
This video by Time To Change highlights how important it is for schools to be talking about mental health.
Yasmin is one of many young people experiencing a mental health problem. You can find out more about Yasmin’s story here.
Read Patrick’s story.
Read Chloe’s Story.
Find out more about mental health here.
If you, or anyone you know is experiencing any symptoms, there are many ways you can find help.
Young Minds provide a list of helplines and websites where you can find information, help or just someone who is willing to listen.