Save our students. Make Mental Health First Aid a compulsory part of teacher training
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In January 2018, I lost my younger brother, Sam, to suicide. He was just 15. I sat on my bed that Sunday evening, unaware that only a few metres away from me my brother was about to take his own life. I heard screams through the headphones and ran upstairs at 21:30. I carried out emergency resuscitation for almost half an hour before the mass of emergency services arrived. No one should ever have to experience the loss and confusion of losing someone to suicide and I hope that, with your help, this petition can save at least one family the awful pain I've had to and continue to face.
As part of research into ways of helping young people suffering with mental health conditions in schools we found that staff are generally not equipped to deal with problems faced by some students as they don't have the knowledge to do so. Very few staff members have mental health first aid training of any level. That's why I'm calling on the government to train teachers to give a basic understanding of the mental health for young people. And more importantly, how they can help if they do feel they should step in and start a conversation.
Mental health first aid would be a very cost effective and simple session to run which outlines potential problems faced by students and offers suggestions to staff on what to do. It would also advise staff on who to contact about the student to start putting into place the support they need as quickly as possible.
There are so many teachers who are capable of dealing with physical medical emergencies, it’s about time that the same can be said for dealing with mental health as well. Most schools have a single specialist physical first aider as well as having a mass of teachers with knowledge of first aid. I don't think an epicentre of help is the right way of dealing with this issue, instead we should use the philosophy that all my campaigns are built on, broad knowledge and broad support.
Making the training compulsory may seem excessive at first glance but we now live in an age where three students per class have a diagnosable mental health condition . There are 4 schoolchildren lost to suicide every week . And the rates of depression and anxiety in young people have increased by 70% in the last 25 years . So, I wholeheartedly believe, this isn't an excessive measure to be taking, it's a desperate one.
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