Monday 9th January 2017
It is absolutely vital that the Education Authority works with the Stormont Education Department to implement a policy of providing mental health lessons for all pupils. Students of all ages and in all types of places of education are facing increasing levels of stress as the competition for grades gets more intense.
There are two main ways these challenges must be faced. Firstly, just as English and Maths are major subjects on the curriculum, so too, Caring for Your Mental Health must become a compulsory part of every student’s learning experience.
Schools and colleges have a duty of care for their students, and ensuring proper mental health provision in the classroom is becoming increasingly important as students of all ages face more and more varied challenges which can have a detrimental impact on their mental health.
Secondly, more mental health clinics must be established in schools to assist students at the coalface of learning. This role cannot simply be dumped onto teachers, who are themselves being snowed under with increasing bureaucracy.
There has been much talk in past years of schools providing a health MOT for all pupils. My challenge to the Education Authority and the Department of Education is to take this ethos a step forward – and make arrangements for every student – from nursery to university – to have a mental health MOT at least once during each academic year.