By Dr Nihara Krause, Consultant Clinical Psychologist, Founder and CEO stem4
The health, social and economic consequences of poor mental health are substantial. 10% of children and young people aged 5-16 have significant mental health difficulties (Public Health England, 2016) with this number increasing to 1 in 4 in adults (Mental Health Taskforce, 2016). There is now a growing body of research that confirms that promotion of mental health and well-being contributes to the prevention of mental health problems (Goldie et al, 2016) with specific reference to mental health education and programmes in schools (Weare and Nind, 2011).
PSHE (personal, social, health and economic education) is defined as teaching in schools that ‘helps students develop knowledge, skills and attributes they need to manage many of the critical opportunities, challenges and responsibilities they face as they grow up and in adulthood’ (PSHE Association). There are a number of topics included in PSHE which focus around wellbeing and mental health. PSHE has been a non-statutory subject in the curriculum although according to proposal made this year in a government Green Paper, there is recommendation to make PSHE education statutory.
There is variability amongst schools on the emphasis placed on PSHE and allocation of curriculum time to accommodate the teaching of the subject. In addition, the teaching is often delivered by non-specialists. Teachers report varying confidence levels in delivering these lessons which require sensitive planning and although the PSHE Association provides guidance and age appropriate lesson plans, 75% school leaders say they lack resources to meet the mental health needs of pupils, citing lack of training as one of the main contributory factors.
Mental health education provides children and young people with life skills that enable them to meet the challenges they face in life. There is evidence to support that enhancing mental health literacy is an important contributor to the prevention of mental illness, indicating that this education is an important first step.
In order to provide standardised specialist mental health education in schools, stem4 has developed ‘Head-Ed’, an on-line resource which includes a library of digital educational videos with supporting materials for teachers. Each video delivers information on a specific area such as ‘resilience’, which is presented by Dr Nihara Krause who is a Consultant Clinical Psychologist and the content has been developed following student feedback.
The digital videos also feature YouTube clips and case studies made for stem4 by young people. The videos are supported by teacher guidance created by Sarah Sterne (Education Co-ordinator, MA, Educational Studies) and Dr Krause. stem4 is a teenage mental health charity, which, over the past seven years has provided mental health education to over 200 schools. ‘Head-Ed’ is currently being trialled in 45 schools in England. To find out more about stem4‘s ‘Head-Ed’ resources email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mental health and wellbeing in England: Adult Psychiatric Morbidity Survey 2014, Leeds: NHS Digital.
These figures have been accessed via http://ghdx.healthdata.org/gbd-results-tool Global Burden of Disease Tool. January 2017.
Goldie, I., Elliot, I., Regan, M., Bernal, L. & Makurah, L. 2016. Mental health and prevention: Taking local action for better mental health, London, Mental Health Foundation.
Gov.UK. 2016. Bullying at school. https://www.gov.uk/bullying-at-school/bullying-a-definition [Online].
Weare, K. & Nind, M. 2011. Mental health promotion and problem prevention in schools: what does the evidence say? Health Promot Int, 26 Suppl 1, i29-69.