Mental Health and the curriculum
Teaching mental health we believe will be good for all parties ( students and the teachers). It may encourage students who would normally not speak up to seek extra support. Furthermore, having specific classes regarding mental health which cover symptoms, causes and the onset of disorders will equip students to better understand themselves. Mental health being taught in the curriculum will also give teachers a better understanding of disorders which they may have not previously understood.
“71% of teachers told the charity (Mental Health Foundation) that they lack the right training to help them address mental health concerns with pupils and only 13% have received mental health first aid training”. With the increase of young people being referred to CAMHS, it is imperative that staff feel confident to support the needs of their students.¹
What could be covered in the curriculum?
In the classes the students could be given the opportunity to learn about what having good mental health means. The students could also learn how the following factors contribute to our overall well-being:
Getting enough sleep - Ensuring that you get an adequate amount of sleep each night is essential for sustaining healthy bodily functions. It is recommended that school aged children need 8-10 hours of sleep.² There are many studies published stating that a lack of sleep has a dramatic impact on our mental health. These studies estimate that 90% of children, experience sleep problems. ³
Expressing ourselves - It is important that we all have a support system; that we can discuss our concerns with. Not everyone may feel comfortable discussing their emotions however, having a diary where we can write how we are feeling in detail can be just as effective.
Having a balanced diet - Sustaining a balanced diet is not only vital for our physical health but also for our psychological health. A systematic review conducted by O’Neil et al. (2014) showed that unhelpful dietary patterns (including higher intake of foods with saturated fat, refined carbohydrates and processed food products) are linked to poorer mental health in children and adolescents.4
Could increased mental health awareness reduce the number of students being excluded?
This is hard to determine at the moment. However, if staff and students have a better understanding of mental health then more early interventions can be put in place which could hinder certain behaviors which lead to exclusion occurring.