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Compulsory mental health education in schools


As you may be aware, it is possible to set up a petition on a government website. There was one recently on making mental health education compulsory in primary and secondary schools.

The petition recognises three statistics sourced from Young Minds, the children’s mental health charity:

  • 1 in 10 children between 5 and 16 suffer from a diagnosable mental health disorder, equivalent to 3 in every class
  • There has been 68% increase in the number of young people admitted to hospital due to self harm over the last 10 years.
  • More than half of all adults with mental health problems were diagnosed in childhood. Less than half were treated appropriately at the time.

The Department of Health’s response to the petition is ‘To support schools in developing their own PSHE curriculum (Personal, Social, Health and Economic) to reflect the needs of their pupils, drawing on resources and evidence provided by expert organisations’.

Two challenges

I see two challenges in developing a genuinely effective curriculum on mental health for schools:

Firstly, the reason PSHE is already a minor player is because it doesn’t feature in the league tables, which the schools are effectively slaves to, in how they conduct classes and education in general. Similarly, this is why schools have been dropping sports lessons…which is an absolute disaster. The very thing that has prevented me from being able to work with schools in the past, despite their recognition of the absolute need for the work, is that they couldn’t find the time.

The education system and curriculum has barely changed in 200 years; it undoubtedly needs a huge overhaul. Life has changed beyond recognition in the last 30 years, let alone the last 200 and the education system needs to change to reflect that.

Part of the curriculum

As a temporary fix, the only way I can see to make mental health a significant part of the curriculum is to make a GCSE in mental health compulsory for all children, alongside Maths and English. That single initiative could change mental health in a generation.

The second challenge is that the inevitable source of material to create learning will be the medical profession, which is obsessed with managing symptoms, rather than eliminating causes.

So, teachers will be trained in teaching CBT and Mindfulness techniques, which, whilst a massive improvement on what is currently taught, will not empower the pupils to pro-actively take care of their mental health and learn how to live a life that makes them happy.

PSHE education essentials

It is essential that any PSHE education includes learning on how the mind works and how we create our reality on a second-by-second basis. Only then can they understand how and why they are creating their stress, anxiety or depression and what to do about it. That’s empowering them to properly take care of their future.

This is exactly the objective and the outcome of the Mark Newey Method and most particularly of the Online Liberation Programme.

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