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U.K.: New Government Plans for Mental Health Support and Education in Schools

By Natasha Broman

08/31/2018

U.K.: New Government Plans for Mental Health Support and Education in Schools
The U.K. government has rolled out plans to make it compulsory for all schools to teach lessons in personal health and mental wellbeing.

The decision follows growing concerns about mental health problems affecting young people, with recent statistics showing that 1 in 10 students under the age of 16 in the U.K. suffer from a diagnosable condition. That’s an average of three children per classroom.

The same report revealed that between 2002 and 2016 hospitals saw a 68 percent increase in the number of young people being admitted due to self-harm.*

According to experts, these rising numbers are related to a variety of factors. Dr. Jackie Cornish, NHS England’s national clinical director for children, young people, and transition to adulthood says, “We know that the problems facing children are growing… In common with most experts, we believe this is due to increasing stress and social pressure on young people, including to succeed at school, and emerging problems with body image leading to eating disorders and self-harm.” The damaging effects of social media and increased sexualization were also named as probable triggers for the shocking rise.

At present, schools are expected to make provision for a curriculum of personal, social, and health education lessons (PSHE), although the delivery of this can look vastly different from school to school, with recent criticisms that many schools have reduced the time available for PSHE lessons due to core curriculum performance pressures.

The current PSHE program of study focuses on health and wellbeing, relationships, and living in the wider world (including economic wellbeing), with the aim of developing skills and attributes such as resilience, self-esteem, risk-management, team-working, and critical thinking. Under the new plans, the focus on health, wellbeing, and relationships will become mandatory, with the curriculum being unveiled next month.

The new updates to the PSHE curriculum, due to take effect from September 2020, will include the age-appropriate delivery of topics such as how to recognize signs in oneself and others that mental health is becoming a struggle, as well keeping safe online, consent, and how to build and develop such qualities as resilience, confidence, and self-control.

The move comes after more than 100,000 people signed a petition last year, calling for compulsory mental health education in primary and secondary schools. Due to the high number of supporters, the topic was debated in Parliament, with proponents of the change providing plenty of recent research findings to draw on.

The government is turning to the school system to act as a vehicle for change, and one new piece of research last year adds further weight to this decision. In their collaborative research with the World Health Organisation (WHO), the University of Herefordshire revealed their findings that young people who have a “low sense of belonging” in their school are nearly seven times more likely to self-harm than those who feel attached to it. The authors of the study pointed to the potential of the PSHE curriculum, with nearly three quarters of the boys and girls involved in the study reporting that PSHE classes helped them look after their own physical and mental health.

Tom Madders, Director of Campaigns at the charity YoungMinds says, “It is vital that the government rebalance the education system to focus on the wellbeing and mental health of students. There is no quick fix; wellbeing must be integrated into every part of a school to ensure that children and young people feel like valued members of their school community.”

The PSHE shake-up is not the only proposed school-based change that the government is putting forward. Last December they issued a Green Paper, outlining plans to increase mental health support for the U.K.’s children and young people, inviting feedback from charities, schools, and students themselves. This includes ensuring that every school has a mental health lead on staff. What exactly this will look like remains vague at this stage. In addition, the government has committed to creating specialist mental health workforce teams to work across schools in a bid to reduce pressure on the NHS branch of child and adolescent mental health (CAMHS) and reduce what are currently extremely long waiting times.

Despite initial encouragement, many charities and campaigners have expressed concerns about the proposed changes. Criticisms include the time frame. Why, campaigners have asked, must children wait until 2020 for the PSHE curriculum to become mandatory? A major concern raised by schools has been around the issues of support and training. It remains unclear whether any additional training will be required in order for teachers to deliver the new curriculum and what training might look like for the new role of “Mental Health Lead.” Natasha Devon, former government mental health champion and mental health advocate, raised the concern as to whether the funding has been adequately thought out, with not just enough money to provide proper training to teachers but also sufficient funds to reward the extra work associated with taking on the additional responsibility of teaching mental health classes.

She adds, “I’d be interested to see if this proposal from the Department for Education runs alongside proposals from the Department of Health to ensure parents and society generally play their part in children’s wellbeing. It’s either a promising start or a sticking plaster measure. Time will tell.”

Devon and others in the field have spoken about the vital need to focus on transforming school culture rather than simply teach lessons about mental health. She adds, “Resilience isn’t an attitude you can choose to switch on or off. It is something that arises when you are well supported.”

The loud and clear voices of those expressing these important concerns raise the question: is the U.K. government promising enough, and can they deliver what they’ve already promised?


*Source: "Young Minds Annual Report 2015-2016"




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09/12/2018 - Gebbree
There are two factors lies behind the problematic behaviour. 1. Physical. 2. Psychological. Physical factors formed due to any of the symptoms of any sickness. Psychological factors may be ococcurred due to several reasons which would be revealed during a counselling session. Some of these activities may help to reduce the problems. 1.
Accommodate the child to another location. 2. Music ,Meditation, yoga 3. Change in the life style. , dieting.,, well disciplined life .3. Holistic healing, Homeopapathic medicines will help to reduce these symptoms at a level.

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