Mental health in schools: we need to make it count

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Mark Rowland argues that mental health should be a priority in education

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10th October 2018 by TFN Guest 0 Comments

For World Mental Health Day 2018, today (10 October), the Mental Health Foundation is focusing on education, and launching our new campaign, Make it Count, because mental health is not extracurricular.

The World Health Organization’s (WHO) theme for this year's World Mental Health Day is young people and mental health in a changing world.   

We know that more and more people are living with poor mental health and that this is having a devastating impact on individuals and communities –with Make it Count we aim to improve the mental health of pupils and teachers.  

Mark Rowland

Mark Rowland

Now is the time to prevent mental ill health

Right now, more and more young people are struggling to cope with their mental health. 

The school environment has a significant impact on a young person’s emotional welfare. For children’s wellbeing to thrive during school hours, teachers need the confidence and knowledge to nurture young people’s development. Equally, teachers need to be supported with their own mental health throughout their career. 

By exploring the root causes that lead to distress, be it body image, relationships or exam stress, we can help build resilience and prevent mental health problems from developing in the first place. 

Now is the time to challenge the education system

Young people continue to be judged on academic performance with little regard for their mental health. Literacy and numeracy are seen as the key markers of success. Yet young people are facing unprecedented pressures in life, leading to anxiety, depression and eating disorders. 

This needs to change. 

Now is the time to call for government action

Now is our time to turn our passion for a mentally healthy society into action by asking for social and political change in education.  

We want to put emotional wellbeing at the heart of the school curriculum. To do this, we need to re-balance the curriculum by giving health and wellbeing the same importance as literacy and numeracy, and creating mentally healthy schools where pupils and teachers can thrive. 

The top priority for every school should be the health and wellbeing of its pupils. 

To get involved, show your support for the campaign by signing the petition and pledging to Make it Count here.

Mark Rowland is chief executive of the Mental Health Foundation. This blog originally appeared on the foundation's website.