Parents want lessons on emotional health in schools – but teachers need more support

A recent survey undertaken by YouGov on behalf of the PSHE Association shows that 90% of parents believe that schools should teach children or young people about mental health and emotional wellbeing alongside traditional subjects like maths and science. Yet the PSHE Association has gathered strong evidence that schools are highly concerned about their capacity to support pupils’ emotional health. Of 400 educators recently surveyed by the PSHE Association, 76% said they wanted more support on teaching about young people’s mental health, more than any other issue covered by PSHE education and up from 65% in a similar survey last year. In response, the PSHE Association has made emotional wellbeing the theme of its annual conference taking place today.

Chief Executive Joe Hayman said:

“This survey of parents shows that they want schools to address this critical issue. The reality is that while there are huge opportunities for young people today, they also face big challenges. We want to work with schools to help them to play their part in addressing these concerns. PSHE education covers a wide range of subjects, from drugs and alcohol education to financial capability. For mental health to come out as the area in which our members most want support shows what a significant issue it is for schools today.”

Lucie Russell, director of campaigns at leading mental health charity Young Minds, added:

“The YouGov/PSHE Association survey shows that parents don’t just want schools to relentlessly pursue high performing results. They want schools to focus on building pupils’ self-esteem and resilience and develop the capacity to deal with life, complete with all its ups and downs. With 3 children in every classroom suffering from a diagnosable mental health problem it’s vital that young people are able to develop the ability to look after themselves but also to know how and where to get help if they need it. Strong academic results go hand in hand with wellbeing and good mental health, so teaching about mental health and wellbeing is a win-win all round.”

Justine Roberts, CEO, Mumsnet added:

“We see many examples on Mumsnet of parents concerned about the stresses their children are experiencing, whether caused by exams, peer pressure, bullying or even just the school environment. Teachers can't be expected to fix everything, but giving them the support they need to help teach children about good mental health seems a good move and one likely to help prevent future problems.”

Ashvarya Madhani, 15, Member of the Youth Parliament for Ealing, added:

“Young people's mental health is certainly a dominant issue in society, however not enough is being done to tackle it. A wider emphasis should be placed on this issue and mental health should be included as part of the PSHE curriculum, in order to better educate and inform our younger generation. Currently, the government is not playing an influential role in helping to tackle the causes of mental health problems in young people or seeking effective solutions to deal with the issue.”

The PSHE Association will today (26th June) hold a major national conference looking at how to support pupil’s emotional wellbeing and mental health through classroom learning. With 175 practitioners from schools, local authorities and leading voluntary sector bodies in attendance, and a keynote address from Education Minister Lord Nash, the conference will be an opportunity to address key issues such as resilience and self-esteem. A conference write-up, including filmed keynote speeches, will be provided on the PSHE Association website post event.  

For more information, visit www.pshe-association.org.uk/evidence

 

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