Make it Count: New campaign launched to ensure children receive mental health education in schools

Date: 19th October 2018
Category: Mental health, Health and health services, Education, including vocational education


The Mental Health Foundation has launched a new campaign ‘Making it Count’ in light of growing concerns that Scotland is to face a “child mental health crisis” if mental health continues to be “treated as extra-curricular” within schools. They state that children and young people are facing unprecedented pressures in their lives, which are contributing to mental health problems including anxiety, depression, self-harm and eating disorders. Key facts highlighted in their campaign briefing include:

·         25% of Scottish parents say that academic pressure and exam stress has caused their children to feel stressed.

·         58% of Scottish young people say that a fear of making mistakes has led them to feel overwhelmed or unable to cope.

·         53% of Scottish young people say their body image has led them to feel overwhelmed or unable to cope.

In response to the Scottish Government’s recent announcement to introduce more school-based counsellors and mental health first aid training for teachers in its Programme for Government, MHF warn that such an approach does not target the root cause of the problems faced by many children. They call for a most holistic, “whole school” approach to ensure that every child in Scotland receives an education with mental health at its heart:

“We know there is no one single way for schools to provide such an environment. To make them mentally healthy places for all who attend and work in them, we need to pursue a “whole-school” approach to prevention.  Teachers, leadership, the curriculum, children, and access to support all contribute to creating a mentally healthy, nurturing environment for children and young people.  We are calling on the government and schools to address all these elements to deliver effective change.” Mental Health Foundation, 2018

MHF’s calls to the government include ensuring all teachers trained in mental health and adolescent brain development by 2020; introducing a national target one hour of quality PSE per week with half of those classes dedicated to building emotional resilience by 2020; and enabling schools to adopt a peer-led mental health programme by 2020 to help young people support one another and tackle stigma.