Schools should promote mental health, not just grades.

‘We don't need to look at rigorous scientific studies to know that the formative years of our lives are hugely important in determining how we will fare later on. How effectively we learn to regulate our emotions and relationships, tolerate distressing situations and view ourselves as lovable and deserving are largely based on the skills, coping mechanisms and beliefs about ourselves that we acquire throughout childhood and adolescence. However much we fret about the pressures faced by children and young people today or how mental health problems amongst this population group are on the rise, we mustn't forget that this time of life is one of huge potential, ripe with opportunity. As well as learning maths, science and Shakespeare, there should be room to learn about resilience in the face of the challenges life throws at all of us, and importantly, how to manage mental health as well as physical health. With between two thirds and three quarters of adult mental illness (besides dementia) being apparent by the age of 18 (Campion et al, 2013), the opportunity for developing proactive responses to mental health difficulties as well as strategies to prevent them occurring in the first place is especially pertinent in this age group.

The last UK epidemiological study in 2005 suggested that 10-20% of under 18s will at any one time have mental health problems significant enough to warrant specialist help, yet the prime way we equip young people for life is through education and pressure to achieve good exam results. The path to a good life we are told is through attainment, qualifications, a salary and paying taxes - not simply doing what we want or enjoy. Whilst we generally recognise as a society that physical health is needed in order to accomplish these things, we still grossly overlook how none of this is possible without an adequate level of mental health.’ – Huffington Post

 

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