I’m normally more than a little suspicious when it comes to the merits of online petitions. Whether the aim is shaming tax-dodging corporates, eliciting an apology from a sexist sports outlet or saving the lesser spotted aardvark, these things literally clog my social media feeds – generally being shared by the same calibre of genius that believes ‘liking’ a photo of a well under construction in the Sudan is tantamount to helping erase African drought.
However, yesterday, for once, a cry for online signatures caught my attention for all the right reasons, and I tagged my name onto the end of this particular list because I genuinely believe there’s a frog’s chance in hell of a positive change actually being implemented.
With the huge proliferation of anxiety and depression among children and young people in recent years, I’m flabbergasted that school kids still don’t receive any kind of teaching on mental health – which is why Chris Lambert’s petition to our government to Teach Mental Health in Schools really resonates. Highlighting a glaringly obvious hole in the national curriculum, the petition questions why mental health education still isn’t a core part of the classroom experience – in the way that safe sex, drugs and alcohol education is – and urges the government to take action on equipping young people with the tools they desperately need to understand their own mental health.
Today’s youth receive constant messages from the likes of Michael Gove that they’re not working hard enough and need to be more ambitious to succeed in later life, but absolutely no guidance on how to deal with the inevitable stress that comes with all this academic pressure, or how to recognise when everyday strains have morphed into mental illness. If I hadn’t been so utterly clueless about how to safeguard my mental wellbeing as I entered my twenties, I truly believe I might not have travelled quite so far down the clinical depression road before I realised I needed help. Nowadays school children seem to be under even more pressure than I was as a teenager – surely we owe them more help in navigating the murky waters of mental illness that so many are falling into.
The full petition reads:
“Sex, drugs and alcohol education is taught in schools and I call on you to put in place, guidance or a framework into the national curriculum for Mental Health to be taught in schools. Mental Health issues will statistically affect a number of children in every classroom and to give them a knowledge of these matters can only be beneficial to them, as well as to people who already suffer Mental health issues as stigma and discrimination towards the subject can be drastically lowered within a generation.”
Too bloody right. If you feel the same way you can put your name on the dotted line here.