On Saturday the 5th of March, I went to the Young Wales Annual Conference. While I was there, I went to the marketplace, which is where there were all of these stalls run by different organisations to promote what they do. I picked up a report called Making Sense, which is a report by young people on their mental health and well being. I will be referencing this a lot throughout this post.
So, here's why mental health should be taught in schools.
1) Young people want to talk to their teachers
When the making sense report was done, the writers carried out focus groups among some young people who use the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS). 44% of theyoung people who use CAMHS who were interviewed said they would prefer to turn to educational counselling services, and 39% said they would prefer to turn to teachers. (54 users or former users of CAHMS were interviewed).
2) Young people want to be educated on mental health
Out of the 76 people who took part in a different focus group, (this focus group was a group of young people who had no personal experience with CAHMS), 25% of them said that education and awareness of mental health in schools needs to improve. 8 groups of pupils were also spoken to, and five out of the eight of them said educating people through schools is most important to improve services.
3) We spend a lot of time in school
The making sense report states "if relaxation techniques, body confidence, methods to deal with exam and coursework pressure and other healthy coping mechanisms wereembedded into the curriculm we could create a generation of children and young people aware of their emotional needs, without thinking or being told that they have a mental illness." It would be so helpful.
One arguement against teaching mental health in schools is that teachers already have enough on their plate without adding new things to the curriculm. What they seem to be missing is that mental health doesn't just affect young people, but that they to have a mental health. Teaching the teachers about mental health would prehaps help them to feel less pressure, or maybe give them better ways to deal with things.
4) There is still a stigma
There is still stigma around having mental health issues. I think part of the issues is that people think if they don't have an issue, mental health doesn't affect them. The fact of the matter is, everyone has a mental health, and we all need to learn how to care for our own mental health.
5) You teach us PE
Why do schools teach us PE? Because it's important that we know how to keep ourselves fit and healthy. It's important we learn how to stay in shape. It's important we know what food are good for us and what foods aren't. So why can't you teach us about mental health? Our brain is an organ to. I want to know what is good to keep my brain healthy. What I can do if I don't feel so good emotionally. You cannot keep valuing my physical health more than my mental health
6) Parents are just as clueless
An arguement that has been made is that how to have a good mental health is something that should be taught to us by our parents. But how can they teach us something they have no understanding of. Teachers can be taught and told how to teach us.
7) You give us exams
I applaud the education system in the UK really, because you have managed to take the amazing concept of learning new things, and destroyed it with the idea of pitting us against one and other and making us nothing more than a statistic. What's more; you don't teach us the importance of mental health and how to cope with stress, when the thought of my GCSE exams, which were COMPULSORY might I add, were enough to make me crawl up into fetal position and cry for at least an hour. You gave me all of these exams and no tools to deal with the amount of pressure being put on me by all of my teachers, and the letter that I was going to be catergorised into. You insisted on telling me that if I failed my exams, I wouldn't get anywhere, and at the end of year 11, you defined me with 13 letters, Well done!
Thank you very much for reading. What do you think? Am I over reacting or should mental health be taught in schools? Let me know in the comments.