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Mental Health Today and its readers have made these calls for the mandatory mental health lessons set to feature in all schools in England from September 2020:
The language used must be demonstrably shaped by lived experience, psychologists, doctors, teachers and parents together.
Teachers to model empathy not judgment when describing thoughts, actions, emotions and behaviour.
Disorder symptoms / presentation to be acknowledged and described in a non-sanitised, sympathetic way to secondary school pupils.
Classrooms and partner services to be safe, supportive, accessible and empowering and environments. Schools to be provided with clear information on partner follow-up service provision before curriculum roll-out.
Teachers to acknowledge current unknowns in mental health research where they exist - along with contested standpoints.
The calls are made following extensive polling of our readership, comprised of practitioners, policy-makers, experts by experience, children, parents and teachers - including many who fall into more than one camp. Over 1,200 reader survey responses were collated and analysed between October 2018 - January 2019.
Information and resources for schools
The government consultation into what type of mental health content should feature in the national curriculum ended with the government deciding that schools should be left free to choose what they wanted to teach.
A majority of school staff surveyed by the Mind charity responded by sharing that they felt unqualified to make judgment calls on what should be taught, or how.
Mental Health Today, from the start of the 2019 school year, is making resources available to schools keen to deliver genuine mental health literacy and supportive, trauma-sensitive environments.