There has been cause for concern amongst teachers amid suggestions that the way mental health is perceived and dealt with in schools is becoming increasingly trivial. The current Minister of State for Community and Social Care, Alistair Burt has issued a warning that not enough is currently being done to allow children with mental health disorders to be equal members of society.
Reports show that around one in ten children have a classified mental health disorder, be it something considered more manageable like ADD or a disorder that requires more resources to cope with like OCD.
After contacting hundreds of students across the UK, The Youth Parliament’s Select Committee came up with 17 possible ways to improve mental healthcare for the young, including getting doctors to interact more with young patients.
There are already certain remedial solutions in schools at the moment which offer some assistance to students with mild mental health problems such as ADD. Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) is a popular method of help at the moment as it allows children to structurally and consistently recognise their dysfunctional thoughts and beliefs. There are however a shortage of CBT therapists as the profession is not recognised as a standalone subject. It remains ancillary
to hyponymous fields like psychology and medicine.
Natasha Devon, a government employed mental health expert and founder of the Self-Esteem Team believes that stress is triggering mental health disorders in young people. Such stressors include the ‘rigorous’ exam procedure that all students are subject to.
Anxiety is the fastest growing disease amongst the young, the growth rate exceeding 70% over a generation, and it is most likely not helped by some aspects of the exam system. Noam Chomsky only sees one use for exams, checkpoints through results. He describes the process as futile as one can forget what the exam was about a week later. Nicky Morgan, the Education Secretary, is telling teachers that primary schools tests are not about pass or fail.
Although anxiety, anorexia, depression and other mental health disorders that affect so many children on a daily basis are not ignored by schools, it has become quite obvious that the resources just aren’t there in school to cope and avoid such problems. Staff, teachers, headmasters and even parents are often unaware of what a child is suffering from.