Teaching mental health in the curriculum we believe will be good for students and teachers. This is because it may encourage students who would normally not speak up to seek extra support. Also, mental health being taught in the curriculum will give teachers a better understanding of disorders which they may have not previously understood.
What is the current problem?
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 vital 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 the symptoms and causes of having mental health difficulties and 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 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 ?
It is hard to determine at the moment if increased mental health awareness could reduce the number of students that are excluded. However, if staff and students have a better understanding of mental health then more early interventions can be put in place which could stop certain behaviors which lead to exclusion occurring.