Plans to introduce mental health lessons to the national curriculum in 2020 are long overdue, argues Jessica Murray, 23, a trainee counsellor and mother who lives with borderline personality disorder.
Mental health is experienced in multiples ways, in various extremes by every single person, every day. So how are we making our children aware of their mental health? If not we, what is the education system doing to educate children on it, and support them?
"I was called an attention seeker for having panic attacks."
Children are taught physical health studies, social studies and even religious studies. But where is the awareness on mental health? This would have hugely benefited me as a child in school. Looking back, I can see how many of my fellow students were struggling, both at school and home. I was one of them.
It is my personal belief that due to the lack of awareness and education, other students saw those struggling as "weak" and a target for bullying. I can't count the amount of times I was called an attention seeker for having panic attacks.
I did not understand why I was so sensitive, why I could not make friends easily or had such dark thoughts about myself.
Surely enough, my teachers didn't understand much either.
The example is all around us. How many children under 18 have died by suicide this year? I read an article recently that a nine-year-old boy hanged himself after being bullied for his anxiety. This absolutely rocked me and got me thinking hard about the situation. Children that young are experiencing mental health issues and learning difficulties, with little to no education on the subject at schools.
- See also: Jessica Murray on living with borderline personality disorder
- See also: The government needs to tie up its policies on mental health, say National Education Union
They are provided with milk and healthy school lunches, take part in physical activities and education, but there has been little awareness made on how their minds work and their emotions.
How many broken adults does society have struggling to live a normal life? How many more will there be without the education on mental health from a young age?
Class topics can be taught to suit each age range. Children start to suffer from anxiety at the age of two, to the point where it can affect their daily lives. The pressures of homework and reaching academic goals can subconsciously take a toll on children. This can cause sleep issues, problems with eating and socialising with others. A child's home environment can also be particularly stressful, which then adds to the stress of school.
If a child had the proper education on their emotions and mentality, they would be more self-aware and able to understand who they are and how they operate. The core of every human being is the brain, which governs our entire self. It is my personal belief that schools, colleges and child carers should provide more information and education on the subject.
Perhaps I would not be so socially anxious. Perhaps I would have understood myself more, made less mistakes, felt less alone. Perhaps my entire life would have changed for the better, had I understood my own self.
- Find out more about Mental Health Today's Teach Me Well campaign to better shape the mental health lessons coming to the national curriculum.
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