Children’s mental wellbeing is at an all-time low. A recent survey by HBSC found that 21% of 15-year-olds in England said they had harmed themselves.
According to NHS figures, over 13,500 girls under 18 needed hospital treatment in 2016, after poisoning themselves. Things can’t go on like this.
The government have decided to make mental health education compulsory for all schools in England, primary and secondary. At Opogo, we think this is excellent news. The stresses that today’s world put on our children are difficult to alleviate, but every effort helps. Let’s examine what is happening in more detail.
The Department of Education has announced that from September 2020, children must be
- Good mental health
- The significance of good relationships with friends and family
- Being physically healthy (which of course, improves mental wellbeing)
As part of the new guidelines, at various stages of their school life, children will also learn
- Intimate relationships and consent
- Staying safe online
- Privacy matters
- LGBT+ issues
- Using technology safely
Perhaps most importantly, children will also learn how to notice when others are having problems with their mental health, and how to offer assistance.
Is it enough?
While all efforts to educate our children about mental health are appreciated, some organisations that don’t believe this announcement goes far enough. There is disappointment amongst teaching unions that the new rules won’t come into force until 2020. There are also leaders who believe Personal, Social and Health Education (PSHE) lessons should be a compulsory part of the curriculum.
Why compulsory mental health education is a good idea
As noted at the start of this article, there is a crisis in children’s mental health. If the government can do anything to try to fix it, it should be welcomed.
Believe it or not, the guidelines in this area were last updated in 2000. That’s before Facebook and Instagram, before smartphones, before all kinds of things that put strains on our children’s self-worth. An update is long overdue.
The updates for the teaching guidelines came after a national consultation. A variety of interested parties were asked to submit recommendations on what should be included.
Helping the wider education sector
While we welcome these attempts to improve mental wellbeing for pupils, they are only a small part of the education sector. Teachers are struggling with mental health issues too.
At Opogo, we’ve developed a social hub packed with rich content from our community experts. We deliver world-class E-Learning, engaging each of our user groups with relevant and bespoke content that users will want to engage with, from classroom behaviour management, STEM advice to practical career development.
Our Opogo community comprises of expert speakers sharing their knowledge through rich content online and in the app, as well as running weekly development workshops in person.
We’re also helping teachers to improve their pupils’ mental health. We believe that children’s physical and mental wellbeing is paramount to everyone’s future. We invest in this through specialist educational programmes such as #TeachDigital and #TeachFit.
#TeachFit is a free programme supporting children’s physical and mental health in school. You can find out more about #TeachFit by watching this very short video.
We are excited about transforming the lives of everyone in education.
About our Community Expert
With extensive understanding and passion for education and growing companies.
James is the Chief Revenue Officer (CRO) of Opogo, driving the success and growth of the Opogo Community Internationally.