04/04/2017 00:00 BST

Mental Health Education Is Not Compulsory In Schools, HeaducationUK Hopes To Change That

'No child should have to experience that pain and fear.'

Parents believe that protecting their children’s mental health is a top concern, yet it is not compulsory to be taught in schools

A small-scale YouGov poll of 1,000 British parents found that 79% agreed that children should be taught more about mental health in schools.

Of those surveyed, 57% said their family has been affected by mental health issues and 45% felt that schools are failing to look after the mental wellbeing of children.  

Today [4 April], The Shaw Mind Foundation, is launching HeaducationUK, a campaign calling for mental health education to be made compulsory.

“I was very secretive about what I was going through growing up, as I didn’t know what was wrong with me,” said HeaducationUK founder, Adam Shaw.

“My life would have been completely different had I been given effective mental health education at primary school.” 

Klaus Vedfelt via Getty Images

Shaw added: “[If I had been given mental health education], I would have been able to ask for help, and wouldn’t have been so frightened.

“No child should have to experience that pain and fear. It is essential that we make mental health education compulsory.”

Ahead of the campaign launch, Shaw set up a government petition to gauge interest in those who support the need for this education.

At the time of writing, more than 54,000 people had signed it. Due to the high number, the Government has since responded to the petition.

“We want mental health to be an everyday concern in all institutions,” A spokesperson said. “Schools should decide to teach pupils about mental health developing their own curriculum to reflect the needs of the pupils.

“Good mental health and wellbeing is a priority for the department. To support schools in developing their PSHE curriculum, we have funded the PSHE Association to produce guidance and age-appropriate lesson plans to teach about mental health.” 

The petition now forms part of the new campaign, HeaducationUK, which is spearheaded by the mental health charity The Shaw Mind Foundation. 

HeaducationUK has support from YoungMinds, a children’s mental health charity. Sarah Brennan, chief executive of YoungMinds said: “Children and young people today face a huge range of pressures, from exam stress to cyberbullying, and all the evidence suggests that the situation is getting worse.

“Children should learn about mental health from a young age, to build their resilience, and wellbeing should also be a fundamental priority in every aspect of the education system.”

The HeaducationUK’s campaign hopes to: 

  • Secure a parliamentary debate on the topic

  • Secured signatories from leading psychiatrists and psychologists to support the campaign

  • Engage with policy stakeholders to discuss how mental health could be best taught in schools.

For more information, visit HeaducationUK to find out ways you can support.

For more information:

PAPYRUS HOPELineUKoffers confidential, short-term advice and support to young people experiencing thoughts of suicide, or to anyone with concerns about a young person with thoughts of suicide. 0800 068 4141.

YoungMinds Parents helpline offers free, confidential online and telephone support, including information and advice, to any adult worried about the emotional problems, behaviour or mental health of a child or young person up to the age of 25. 0808 802 5544.

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