THE BLOG

Matters of the Mind - Speaking Out About Mental Health in Schools

13/05/2015 11:04 BST | Updated 12/05/2016 10:59 BST

I don't remember once being talked to about mental health in school. From as young as primary school we are taught about sex education and bullying. We are told to "stand up and speak out" about bullying; however, why is it we feel that we can't stand up and speak out about mental health disorders? They'll answer our questions about sex and bullying, but mental illness? "Never mind". Our schools are a 'no bullying zone'... are schools a 'no mental health disorder zone' too? Society fears revealing to children too soon that our mind is not always our friend, yet children need to learn to allow the space between where they are and where they want to be to inspire them and not terrify them. P.E classes are put in place to reinforce the importance of physical health, so why is it that mental health is so neglected? The main problem isn't that we're using the wrong words or saying the wrong thing, but that we're not talking about it at all.

One in ten children and young people have asthma. How is it that we 'forget' that one in ten children and young people suffer from a diagnosable mental health disorder? Because it is far too taboo to talk about our mental health. When we're younger and we break our arm, everyone runs forward to sign the cast; however, we think that when we 'reveal' we are suffering from depression, people will run the other way. We aren't educated enough about these issues so we get the wrong idea, leading to stigma. Depression isn't being lazy, self-harm isn't attention seeking and eating disorders are not trends. Our society sees such disorders as a great weakness, resulting in us conditioning young people that it's not okay to talk about them. Even a lesson a month to help people understand; to teach people techniques such as mindfulness; to encourage people to ask for help, would have massive impact.

It shouldn't always have to be a mind of our own, we don't always have to mind our own business. "Don't read my mind, talk about my mind" - Education can go a long way. By not teaching children about mental health disorders our ability to learn effectively in all aspects of school is affected. Our ability to become an accepting, helping society is also affected too. I don't mind that we can't cover these problems with plasters and sign the cast, they shouldn't have to be covered up at all. We not only need (as promised) more funding to contribute to tackling the problem, but we need teaching about the mind, not just to mind our Ps and Qs. By doing this we would prevent stigma, we would make children feel they can seek the help they need to and not to suffer in silence, whether that is in their young years or later in life. We can improve their education, working life, family life, and social life and their well-being and trust. They can change generations by teaching their children the same valuable lessons they learned.

Don't turn a blind eye to problems that need addressing. Children can suffer from mental health problems too, keep that in mind.