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Charities call for greater focus on mental health in schools

27/04/2017 Joanna

Schools and teachers must play a bigger role in tackling mental health problems affecting children, according to a group of leading charities.

Organisations such as YoungMinds, Rethink Mental Illness, the Mental Health Foundation, the National Children’s Bureau and the British Youth Council have written to prime minister Theresa May to call for the education system to be rebalanced towards mental health.

This letter was signed by more than 2,500 teachers, 1,000 mental health professionals, 4,500 parents and 1,200 young people, and came alongside a separate letter published in the Daily Telegraph calling for all parties contesting the June 2017 general election to make manifesto commitments to tackling mental health issues in the classroom.

To support these calls, YoungMinds has released the findings of a survey showing that 92 per cent of young people aged 11 to 18 think schools should be accountable for the wellbeing of students. A further 87 per cent believe all teachers should have basic training in mental health, while 67 per cent think their school should place more importance on this issue.

Sarah Brennan, chief executive of YoungMinds, said: "It is crucial that the new government makes the mental health of our children an absolute priority. But at the moment the education system is so heavily skewed that it's hard for schools to focus on the wellbeing of students rather than their academic achievements."

The sending of the letters coincides with the parliamentary launch of Wise Up, a campaign calling for greater recognition for the good work schools do on wellbeing, while also putting pressure on ministers to ensure that proper funding is provided for wellbeing initiatives, and that mental health be considered an integral part of teacher training.

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