The government was today urged to ensure new mental health content being added to the national curriculum is trauma-informed and avoids ‘victim-blaming’.

Mental Health Today (MHT) has already received over 1,000 responses to a survey launched two weeks ago into what readers want from the much-anticipated new syllabuses.

Our reader survey will remain open until the Department for Education’s official response to the latest consultation (which closed yesterday, November 7) is published in the new year.

MHT’s provisional results, from 1,131 responses, have been shared with Jackie Behan, the government’s policy lead for Relationships Education, Relationships and Sex Education and Personal Social and Health Education, who has overseen the wider consultation to date.

Readers want school children to be supported to recognise the impact of mental health needs, including diagnosed disorders, on the actions of their friends and families.

Empathy or judgment?

The government says it wants to "cultivate resilience" and for teachers to "give children the language to talk about emotions, health and behaviour" but vernacular and response approach are both contested areas of mental health. 

A spate of harmful text-book content for other topics has been highlighted recently, showing how complacency over content creation can undermine anti-stigma efforts. Initial responses to MHT’s survey favours teachers being honest and transparent about the unknowns that still exist within our collective understanding of mental health, along with the various areas where evidence is contested.

Readers have indicated they would like individuals with lived experience of mental health conditions to play a significant role in how content language is developed, primarily alongside professions including psychologists and teachers.

MHT's survey results will be published on our website early next year.

Timeline

  • Parliamentarians will debate and finalise mental health content in Spring 2019.
  • MPs and Peers will have a vote each by Summer 2019 to approve the agreed content.
  • Mental health content will then be introduced into the national curriculum in September 2020.

What does the government say?

“As a parent I see my children growing up in an increasingly complex world,"  Education Secretary Damian Hinds said yesterday.

"As Education Secretary I want to make sure all children know how to be safe and healthy and how to manage they lives in a positive way."

"We are making the study of Relationships, Sex and Health Education compulsory to make sure our young people grow up learning how to deal with the pressures of the modern world."

"The importance of this work, and the strength of feeling around this subject, has been underlined by the fact that more than 8,000 people and organisations have responded to the consultation on the draft guidance - as well as the 23,000 responses we received during the call for evidence. We will now consider the consultation responses ahead of publishing the new guidance so young people are learning the skills, knowledge and resilience that will help them thrive when they leave school."

You can find out more about the government’s draft plans and take MHT's ten question 'Teach Me Well' survey here.

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