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Compulsory mental health education in schools to be debated in parliament

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The Government has confirmed Monday 6th November 2017 as the date for the parliamentary debate to make mental health education compulsory in schools, following a petition that achieved more than 100,000 signatures.

 

The petition forms part of the HeaducationUK campaign, which is spearheaded by the mental health charity The Shaw Mind Foundation and its founder, Adam Shaw, who battled with obsessive compulsive disorder from the age of five.

This is the first time in British history that a mental health charity has reached 100,000 signatures on the Government Petition website.

At 100,000 signatures, petitions are automatically considered for debate in Parliament. The Headucation UK petition originally had until the 6th July to secure the signatures, but due to the snap General Election announced in April, the deadline for all government petitions was brought forward to 3rd May.

Despite a timeline cut short by two months, the petition was still able to gather more than enough signatures, showing that this is an issue the general public cares deeply about.

The Shaw Mind Foundation has now commissioned an independent report into the long-term impact that compulsory mental health education will have on the workplace, the NHS, UK economy, family mental health and wellbeing.

The report will also make recommendations on how compulsory mental health education can be efficiently and cost effectively implemented into the curriculum.

A YouGov poll commissioned by the campaign found that 80% of British parents believe protecting their children’s mental health is a top concern and 79% of British parents believe that children should be taught more about mental health in schools.

A Censuswide poll commissioned by the campaign found that 92% of teenagers aged 14 to 18 think mental health should be discussed in lessons at school, and 65% said they wouldn’t be able to identify if they were experiencing mental health problem because they don’t know enough about it.

Adam Shaw, founder of the Shaw Mind Foundation, said: “I am delighted that the government has responded to the British people's call for a parliamentary debate after the overwhelming public support for our HeaducationUK campaign. Parents, school-children and clinical experts are all calling for better mental health education in schools.

“The government now needs to start laying the foundations of sound mental wellbeing for our children and future generations.  Mental health conditions put undue strain on the NHS and UK economy as a whole. They also lead to children living in extreme hardship and poverty, in situations where a parent suffers from a debilitating mental health condition.

“Suicide is the biggest killer of young people under 35, with on average 126 suicides a week. Data also shows that three pupils in every classroom suffer from a diagnosable mental health condition. It is essential that we improve mental health education in schools to reduce the taboo around conditions such as OCD, anxiety, depression, eating disorders and others.

"Teachers and schools deserve the support and investment necessary to tackle mental health properly. This can only be achieved if mental health education is compulsory and the government commits to funding it properly. Responsibility should not lie solely with teachers and schools. They should be supported.

“So far, mental health education as a small part of personal, social, health and economic education (PSHE) lessons has failed to give adequate weight to the subject, and it is not taught uniformly across the country.

“An earlier report from the Health and Education Select Committees states that promotion of wellbeing cannot be confined to PHSE lessons. The committees support the need for a whole school approach, and we believe mental health education as a compulsory part of the curriculum is a necessary starting point.

"It's important that the government takes this issue as seriously as the 103,554 British people who signed the HeaducationUK petition. We urge these people to encourage their local MP to attend the debate on Monday 6th November.

“This is an opportunity for the UK to lead the world in recognising the importance of mental health, as we already recognise physical health."

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