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Academics back mental health lessons from school staff

03/04/2009 Joanna
School staff should be providing pupils with lessons about common mental health problems, according to new research.

Academics at the University of Sheffield found that providing teenagers with just six 50-minute lessons on the topic contributed to reducing prejudice and negative attitudes towards mental illness.

Researchers measured this by asking 14 and 15-year-olds at two London secondary schools to complete a questionnaire to determine their understanding, knowledge and attitudes towards mental illness, which was then repeated eight months after the lessons had finished.

And it was found that the pupils at one school who were equipped with information by those in teaching jobs showed a better understanding, knowledge and attitude towards mental health illnesses than those who were not.

Dr Paul Naylor of the University's School of Health and Related Research stated: 'This study shows that teaching 14 and 15-year-olds about mental health difficulties helps to reduce stigma by increasing knowledge and promoting positive attitudes.'

Earlier this year, Professor Barry Carpenter, chair of a national inquiry into mental health, told the Times Educational Supplement that the recession could contribute to mental health disorders among children doubling over the next decade.

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