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Students call for mental health education in the classroom

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New research into young people and mental health finds that: 

  • 93% want mental health to be brought into the classroom, and for conversations about mental health to be normalised.  
  • Although some won’t speak to anyone when they are struggling, many turn to friends. Over 92% identify friendships as the main factor positively impacting their mental health. 
  • 52% will talk to a member of school staff about their concerns. For those who would seek support in school, they are most likely to turn to a trusted teacher. 

The UK-wide survey of over 3,000 students aged 11-19 emerges as the coronavirus pandemic has had a profound impact on children and young people’s mental health. In England, the proportion of children and young people with a probable mental health disorder has risen from one in eight in November 2017, up to one in six in July 2020.

The findings are published as the Anna Freud Centre launches Mentally Healthy Schools for secondary schools and FE colleges, the UK’s first information and resource hub offering free, quality assured mental health resources and guidance for education professionals.

Jaime Smith, Director of the Schools Programme at the Anna Freud Centre, says: 

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“From these new findings, we hear the voices of students at this critical time for schools. They tell us that the current generation of children and young people, who are living through the pandemic, actively want to learn and talk more about mental health. We should embrace their openness as a genuine opportunity for schools to prioritise mental health and wellbeing”.

Dr Alex George, the Prime Minister’s Youth Mental Health Ambassador, comments:

“Following the return of schools, we expect many more children will need increased help. Without timely support, mental health distress in children and young people can have a devastating impact on their lives in the years to come. School staff will need help to fully support their students. It is only by all of us working together and talking openly about mental health that we can ensure all schools become mentally healthy”.  

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