There is a lot of discussion about including mental health education to the mandatory teaching curriculum for all schools in the UK. It is not to be a certified subject but to benefit from the teaching I believe it is essential and vital in reducing the stigma around mental health issues. I am continually concerned how a lack of education around mental health impacts negatively on the problem.
One in four people experience mental illness every year according to the charity MIND and this also concerns children. One in ten children between the ages of 5 and 16 have been diagnosed or shown signs of mental health problems and if not treated continue to have these problems into adulthood.
Half of mental health illness begins before the age of 14 and 75% of these continue into the age of 18.
The NHS estimates mental health problems cost the NHS £105 billion a year in England alone. Schools promote physical health through PE classes but do not regularly touch on mental health even though suicide is on the rise. Not only does this approach leave them unprepared and vulnerable when it comes to looking out for their own mental health and well-being but also sets the standard that mental health should not be discussed.
This plants a seed of stigma that many carry through their lives. Also there is very little in way of guidelines. For example, if Romeo and Juliet is studied as part of the curriculum when the 2 characters kill themselves this is considered the end of the story or worse romanticised as an ideal form of love or sadness/unhappiness.
If every child gets or one or six sessions on this topic then I believe this would help. Also I believe every child should have the ability to access a qualified counsellor through their school. This is something that many workplaces already offer so why not in schools?
What do you think?