Health focus: Schools’ key role in mental wellbeing

Mental health focus

Mental health focus

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Evidence shows that schools can play an important part in the emotional wellbeing of young people.

And a Buckinghamshire survey has found that the majority of Year 10 students would like to seek support from their schools.

With this in mind the county council’s public health team has commissioned training for staff from eight secondary schools in the county to carry out a resilience programme.

Key features of the project are an 18-lesson curriculum which includes a problem solving approach to promoting resilience; and focusing on Year 7 pupils as they face the crucial transition into senior school.

Jennifer Beer, the county council’s public health practitioner specialising in young people’s wellbeing, said: “Developing resilience skills is crucial to improving wellbeing in young people. As well as preventing mental illness, it can also increase self-esteem, coping skills and confidence with resulting improvements in educational performance and reductions in antisocial behaviour. There is also evidence that the benefits extend beyond school by improving employability and productivity later on.”

Initial evaluation and feedback brought universal praise from teachers. Pupils said they enjoyed the programme and used strategies learned to cope in difficult situations.

Other activities undertaken by the council include training professionals in the council, NHS and voluntary sector.

FACTS

IMPORTANCE

Mental health is recognised as central to our quality of life and economic success, and vital in any attempts to improve education, training and employment outcomes.

BENEFITS OF GOOD MENTAL HEALTH

Good mental health and wellbeing, and not simply the absence of mental illness,have been shown to result in health, social and economic benefits for individuals, communities and populations.

ADOLESCENCE

Half of those with lifetime mental health problems first experience symptoms by the age of 14 and three quarters by their mid-20s.

IN A SECONDARY SCHOOL WITH 1,000 PUPILS

Around 50 pupils will be seriously depressed and 100 will be suffering from significant distress; between five and 10 will be affected by eating disorders; and between 10-20 will have an obsessive compulsive disorder.