CHILDRENS MENTAL HEALTH AND THE CURRICULUM
A report by the school support company The Key suggests two thirds of headteachers and school leaders nationally are most worried about mental health, followed by domestic violence, with 58 per cent citing it as a top concern. More than 1,000 leaders were surveyed as part of The Key’s annual State of Education report.
Professor Tanya Byron backed by the Times recently launched “a blueprint” for Mental Health calling for urgent change. Byron said: “When are we going to wake up to the fact that mental health problems in children can be as serious and life changing as physical illnesses? How as a society can we justify the fact that the mental health of children is so low on our list of priorities?” Although politicians have expressed their concerns about childrens mental health and want schools to do more to identify children suffering mental health issues and to seek support for these children, figures show spending on mental health services has actually fallen every year since 2010.
Nonetheless Emotional wellbeing, resilience and good mental health are seen as a priority for the Department foe Education. As the Secretary of State said in an interview with the Times on 4 July 2015, there are lots of new pressures on young people growing up. Ministers want children to do well academically and attainment is supported if they have good mental health character and resilience. They say these are two sides of the same coin.
The National Curriculum framework is clear that all schools should teach Personal, Social, Health and Economic (PSHE) education – a non-statutory national curriculum subject which supports and extends other subjects in the school curriculum, such as Citizenship and Information Technology. This helps pupils to develop self-esteem, resilience, confidence and their ability to learn, as well as dealing with specific issues such as online and cyberbullying.
In order to support teachers to improve teaching about mental health in PSHE, the government has funded the PSHE Association to produce guidance and detailed lesson plans for Key Stages 1-4 which are available online here at: https://www.pshe-association.org.uk/news_detail.aspx?ID=1435
The government says ‘ While teachers are well placed to spot where students have a problem, they are not mental health professionals. It is important that students can get swift access to specialist mental health support where needed. An additional £1.25bn is available for mental health services for children, young people and new mothers over the next 5 years, to ensure timely access to appropriate specialist support is available’
Source Schools Week and Hansard 20 July
In March the Department for Education and the Department of Health published joint statutory guidance on promoting the health and well-being of looked-after children. This emphasises the importance of emotional well-being and mental as well as physical health. Support to vulnerable groups, including looked-after children, was also a focus of the work leading up to the publication of Future in Mind.
Schools Week reported in February that no data on young people’s mental health had been collected by the government since 2004.