Put Mental Health on the National Curriculum as it’s own INDIVIDUAL subject

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An increasing amount of people of my generation are seeing the effects and aftermath of mental health illnesses. It is becoming more and more visible to not only the generation it is effecting, but the generations above, just how much the youth of today is struggling with mental health problems. After a petition last year to have mental health made a compulsory part of PSHE taught in all schools reached 100,000 signatures, parliament have  accepted this plea and hope to see things move forward and for this to be implimented in Sept 2020. I say, that a once a week for a month course is not enough to truly help young people understand quite how mental health works and the truth is once this finishes, it will be forgotten about and washed over. More than French, geography and history, mental health is a serious and growing topic our children need to learn to grow and develop into successful people, and this I see why we need to see mental health put on as a separate subject on the curriculum. 

This petition is to see Mental Health taught as a key subject in schools across the UK.  

I am a 19 year old survivor of borderline personality disorder, a mental health illness that claimed most of my adolescent years. I spent a wide stretch of my teenage life in and out of hospital, whether that for short term sectioning, self harm treatment or even to save my life after a suicide attempt. I am one who has survived, but not all have been so lucky.

My school was very aware of my situation, and so were my peers. Unfortunately, neither were overly supportive or understanding and I spent most of my school life being picked on for my scars and teased that I was ‘crazy’. As a child you don’t understand why you are the way you are when suffering from mental illness, you can’t fathom the idea of trauma and how that can alter psychological development. And other kids, they don’t understand it either. It’s not that they’re cruel, which is something I’ve come to terms with, it’s that they don’t understand. The support I so desperately needed, not only from my school but from my peers was not an option because no one actually understood what I was going through, which leads me to this plea. 

It is imperative that children learn about the world around them. That they learn how to identify warning signs in not only themselves but their  peers as well, that they learn who to go to for help and that it is OKAY to ask for help. Young people need an education on the things that will effect 1 in 4 of them. That is 1 IN 4 OF THEM. They need to understand that they/someone they know will be a direct victim of a mental health illness and they need to know what to do when it happens. It is so important to give our youth an education on something that could claim young lives. It is their right to know and be aware of these things.

In an average class of 30 young people, three will have a mental health problem. Figures show 10% of children aged 5-16 have been diagnosed with a mental health problem. That is so many children suffering from mental health problems or showing signs of early stage mental illness and the majority of them have no idea that there are support networks available for them. They are unaware of CAHMS, they are unaware of allocated school councillors, they are unaware of social clubs in city’s that help and specialise in mental health (the Zone, etc) and so they are suffering in silence. 

There are things we can do to help our future generation. And what I want from this petition is to sound alarms to parents, schools and pupils across the UK and demand that something be done.

If this petition were to be a success, I would hope to see the curriculum hold a mental health subject in all public secondary schools for at least 1 year and for the subject to hold these different topics, as mental health is not just a singular problem itself, and it can be caused AND PREVENTED by learning about and being aware of different topics.

  • Different types of mental health, and why we suffer from them. Depression and anxiety being  key topics, as they are apparent in being the most prominent illnesses. The topic should address symptoms and treatments, as well as teaching the biological reason as to why these illnesses occur (often if you can give someone a logical reason as to why they are feeling the way they do, they are likely to feel less of an out cast and be more willing to reach out and seek help). 75% of young people suffering with mental illness are not receiving treatment. This could be for a number of reasons, but they deserve to know they are all eligible and have the right to seek help. 
  • Other, less heard of illnesses such as personality disorders, OCDs and pyschotic disorders. This topic should teach students how to spot symptoms and who to go for if they feel they are in need of help. 
  • Touch on self harm and suicide awareness. This may be seen as taboo, but it is a major issue in today’s society. Self harm is increasingly becoming more and more of an issue, and so many youngsters are turning to suicide attempts as a means for attention (they feel no one will listen unless they present suicidal) and some may even follow through and take their own lives. Suicide is a leading cause of death in young men and women aged 20-34 in the UK. The latest figures from the Office of National Statistics reveal that the number of young suicides each year is greater than it has been for the past 10 years. It is time to stop avoiding the elephant in the room and address it instead, making children aware of the scary side of mental health, how to spot the signs and how to get help and potentially save a life. 
  • How mental health begins, and how it is normal to struggle sometimes. Three in four mental illnesses start during childhood. 
  • Economical factors. I feel this is INCREDIBLY important. A lot of children know the Pythagoras theorem by heart but don’t understand how taxes work or how to buy a house. This is a huge stress for young people and can lead to  their mental health deteriorating. We need to not only teach our children about mental health issues, but help prevent them from getting them in the first place by teaching them about life and how to do things properly. 
  • And finally, a topic to teach life skills and healthy coping mechanisms such as breathing excersices, mindfulness and meditation. This should also touch on triggers, flash backs and how to cope with these. 

It is time we as a society do something to protect and potentially save the lives of our younger generation. This is not an issue that is going to disappear and if anything, it is just going to worsen over time if nothing is done to prevent it now. Please help by signing this petition, it’s what our young people deserve.