Parents call for better mental health education in schools

Schools should teach children more about mental health, say parents. 
children in class

Children should be taught more about mental health issues in schools, according to a survey of parents. 

Campaigners want mental health to be a fixture in the school curriculum  Photo: iStock

Almost half (45%) said schools are failing to look after the mental health of pupils and eight out of 10 believe children should learn more about mental health in the classroom. 

The survey of 1,000 UK parents found that four in five said protecting their children's mental health was a top concern. 

Mandatory in schools

The findings were published by the Shaw Mind Foundation charity to publicise the campaign HeaducationUK, which is calling for mental health education to be made mandatory in primary and secondary schools. 

A petition calling on the government to make mental health education in schools compulsory has been signed by more than 54,000 people.

'My life could have been different'  

HeaducationUK founder Adam Shaw, who developed an obsessive compulsive disorder at the age of five, said: ‘I was very secretive about what I was going through growing up, as I didn't know what was wrong with me.

'My life would have been completely different had I been given effective mental health education at primary school. I would have been able to ask for help, and wouldn't have been so frightened.’ 

Pressure on young people

The campaign is supported by charities YoungMinds and Barnados.

YoungMinds chief executive Sarah Brennan said: ‘Children and young people today face a huge range of pressures, from exam stress to cyber bullying, and all the evidence suggests the situation is getting worse.’ 

Ministers' announcement

Earlier this year, ministers announced that personal, social and health education (PSHE) will be made compulsory in English secondary schools, with further consultation on what it should include.   

The Commons health and education select committees began an inquiry last year into education and mental health. 

A Department for Education spokesperson said the government had invested £1.4billion in mental health support.

‘Schools are able to teach about mental health in a variety of ways; including through PSHE education.’ 

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