Put mental health on timetable, schools urged
Mental health lessons needs to be at the timetable in every secondary school within the UK a brand new charity has urged.
Too many pupils with symptoms of depression or anxiety are let down or ignored, claims charity MindFull.
It has launched a brand new online counselling service to support and advise 11- to 17-year-olds.
MindFull’s founder Emma-Jane Cross said poor mental health among teenagers was “one of the most last great medical taboos within the UK today”.
The charity’s inaugural report requires a “sea-change” in approaches to young people’s mental health.
In her foreword, Ms Cross describes the dimensions of the issue as “epic” with thousands “teetering at the brink” of significant mental illness, risking “terrible long-term effects” for both individuals and society at large.
Too many “are having to resort to harming themselves on purpose if you want to cope, or worse still are wondering ending their very own lives”, she added later.
The report demands awareness of the significance of mental health to be integrated into every aspect of young people’s development particularly in schools and health services.
“We have to move far from only tackling the indicators of acute poor mental health and well-being to spotlight education, prevention and early intervention,” say the authors.
“Teenagers should be encouraged to talk out about their mental health and well-being and feel confident that, once they do, they may receive the support they want as swiftly and as easily as possible.”
The charity says its new online support service can help do that by providing professional counselling and peer support for youth.
It says it can even be working with schools to coach youngsters on tips on how to focus on mental health issues.
The charity has the backing of Labour leader Ed Miliband and of campaigners for better mental health support for teens.
Psychologist Prof Tanya Byron said: “Just as we glance after our children’s physical health, it is vital we provide support for his or her mental well-being.
“Children and kids are clearly not getting the assistance they wish. That’s why this new online support from MindFull is so important.”
Lucie Russell of the YoungMinds charity said: “Children and children are growing up in a poisonous climate. They exist in a 24/7 online world where they never switch off, where cyberbullying, consumerism and pornography, sexting and the pressure to have the very best body bombard them daily, where any exam grade below a C means failure and employment prospects are bleak.
“We all know from our extensive work with teens that the support they so desperately need once they aren’t coping is grossly lacking but we also know from services that they’re under huge funding pressures and are overwhelmed with demand.”
Health minister Norman Lamb said the federal government was “placing an unprecedented emphasis on mental health”, particularly for kids and youth.
“Greater than a 3rd of kids and kids now live in a space where children and adolescent mental health services has been transformed.
“We’re investing £54m into improving access to mental health treatments for youngsters and teenagers.”