The Stand Up Kid

Very impressed with this new video from Time to Change.

i've been thinking a lot lately about the way we deal with mental health issues in our schools. i'm about to start a Certificate in Mental Health Studies with the Open University and, though i'm doing it purely out of interest and to use my spare time productively, i've been thinking about the ways in which it might also be relevant to my job - it's a topic, then, that's at the forefront of my mind just now.

i'm not actually sure what is taught about mental health, nor what resources or help is available, in Scottish schools these days. When i was at school - which was longer ago than i might like to admit - we weren't taught about any of the issues surrounding mental health. Our Social Education classes included any number of issues facing young people: from sexual health and positive relationships, to drugs and alcohol, to dealing with stigma surrounding homosexuality, to bullying, to planning for future careers. i even have vague recollections of a class teaching us about epilepsy. But never once, that i can recall, were we taught about mental illnesses, or the stigma surrounding them; we never covered related topics like suicide or self-harm; we never learned about emotional resilience; and while we could have had all the free condoms our hearts desired, we were never given any tools or resources to help look after our mental well-being.

i'd like to think that our schools are handling things better these days. There's certainly been an increase in awareness in the years since i left school; a lot of progress has been made in other areas; and there is far more available in the way of resources and information. i can only hope that they're being used well with our young people.

Either way, we still have a long way to go, both in understanding mental health issues and in reducing the stigma that surrounds them. A report i read recently stated that, of 1000 young people suffering from mental health problems, 70% had experienced negative reactions from their own friends; 40% said that negative reactions from others had, at some time, stopped them going to school; and 26% said that these reactions had made them want to give up on life. Clearly there is still a lot of work to be done.

i'm not sure what they plan to do with the 'Stand Up Kid' video - whether it'll be shortened into a TV advert, or is intended for use in schools and other settings with young people - but it's well done and i appreciated the message behind it. i hope it's put to good use.

i'm going to make it my mission to quiz the young people i work with on what they're taught about mental health - and what help they know to be available to them - in our local school these days.
And if you happen to know what Scottish schools are meant to include in their curriculum in this area, let me know!

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