Progressive Mental Health Education
Today, mental health is talked about more openly than ever before. The issues are better understood, as are their causes and effects. On the other hand, there is a constant stream of bad news relating to mental illnesses among students and teachers. In other words, education relating to mental health and emotional well-being has come increasingly under the spotlight in recent years, for a range of good and bad reasons.
Educators are at the point now where the importance of teaching mental health and well-being is understood. Indeed, we know that great care must be taken to send the right messages about this important subject, but questions still remain about what the right messages are. As the association for Personal, Social, Health and Economic (PSHE) education states: “Schools want to cover these issues and recognise the imperative to do so, but without sufficient background knowledge, teachers can find it daunting.”.
The PSHE Association particularly emphasizes the importance of two trends in modern, progressive mental health education; integration and consistent developmental teaching.
The association promotes a mindset where mental health education should be integrated into a wider curriculum of learning relating to personal well-being. In their Teacher Guidance concerning the subject, they state that; “Mental health and emotional well-being should not be viewed as a ‘topic’ that can be delivered in isolation in a lesson or series of lessons.”
Instead, this type of learning should be consistent throughout a student’s education. This better reflects the fact that mental health and emotional well-being are consistent issues that affect everyone throughout life, rather than a boxed off problem to be dealt with by certain people at specific times.
As well as being integrated, education relating to mental health and well-being should be taught consistently from early learning throughout the curriculum. These issues are progressively seen as central to the development of all students, and curriculums are evolving to reflect this, albeit slowly. It is still the case that students generally only begin to learn about mental health and emotional well-being from key stage four onward. This despite the fact that in the UK, more than 8,000 school children under the age of ten are clinically depressed.
The PSHE organisation are eager to change this; “By incorporating learning related to emotional well-being and good mental health into our broader curriculum from key stage 1, we can help to promote positive behaviours and strategies which pupils can adopt and adapt throughout their school careers.”
To read more about this issue, go to pshe-association.org.uk.