Far from being a problem exclusively suffered by adults, mental health issues affect children too. According to the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health around one in ten youngsters suffer from mental health problems, with 75% of these not getting the help they require. So, isn’t it about time that mental health was taught in primary schools?
Cases of child mental health problems are on the rise, as is demand for child psychiatry jobs. Many experts believe that in order to tackle this pertinent issue, mental health should be addressed in primary schools. Mental health charity Young Minds argues that primary school children are taught about bullying and sex education, so why not about mental health? There’s emphasis on looking after physical health through physical education lessons, yet why is there no place on the National Curriculum for safeguarding youngsters’ mental health?
Experts believe that if mental health was taught at a young age, it would become less of a stigma, and sufferers would be in a better position to get help. There is also the belief that if mental health was taught in primary schools, it could reduce the occurrence of youngsters suffering from mental health issues into adulthood. The Guardian reports that there’s a strong correlation between childhood and adolescent mental health difficulties, and problems in adulthood. According to the Telegraph, half of children with mental health problems will suffer similar problems when they reach adulthood.
There is clearly an issue in schools that needs urgently addressing. A worrying report by the BBC has highlighted that many schools are having to make 999 calls to get treatment for pupils suffering from mental health problems, since there is a shortage of services. What this emphasises is that teachers should be discussing mental health with children, but they are not therapists. In order to tackle the issues, teachers need a network of support services to call upon to help those children who need help.
The National Association of Head Teachers believes there is a gap in provision of services to support the mental health of children. Awareness of the issues is irrelevant if the vital support services are not readily available.
The Department for Education has pledged to address these issues, so that provision of mental health education will become more commonplace in primary schools, and youngsters can get the vital services they need.
Blog written by Katerina Crowder