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Teaching about Mental Health and Emotional Wellbeing

Wednesday 25th March 2015

Today the PSHE Association have launched new guidance for schools on preparing to teach about mental health and emotional wellbeing. The guidance has been produced under a grant from the Department for Education and will be accompanied by set of lesson plans spanning key stages 1-4 which will be published during the summer term. The guidance covers key issues including: 

  • Why it is important to teach about mental health and emotional wellbeing
  • Building teaching about mental health into a planned PSHE programme
  • Promoting wellbeing and resilience from an early age
  • Ensuring teaching is appropriate to the age and maturity of pupils
  • Key principles in teaching about mental health and emotional wellbeing safely and confidently
  • Using visitors to the classroom to support lessons
  • Addressing challenging mental health issues such as eating disorders, self-harm and suicide

Download the new guidance here

Referring to the guidance, Secretary of State for Education Nicky Morgan said:

“The new guidance published today will give teachers the confidence to teach mental health sensitively and effectively … there must be no trade-off between learning about mental health and academic success. By improving teaching on this subject we will help young people make sense of mental health issues and teach them how to keep themselves and others safe.”

PSHE Association Emotional Health and Wellbeing Advisor Dr Pooky Knightsmith said:

“Teaching pupils about mental health and emotional wellbeing as part of a developmental PSHE education curriculum can play a vital role in keeping pupils emotionally safe.  It is a good opportunity to promote pupil wellbeing through the development of healthy coping strategies and an understanding of pupils’ own emotions as well as those of other people; such lessons can also be used as a vehicle for providing pupils who develop difficulties with the strategies needed to keep themselves healthy and safe, while helping their peers to support those who are facing challenges. 

“Whilst the specific content of lessons will be determined by pupils’ age, stage and the specific needs of the cohort we’re teaching, there should always be an emphasis on enabling pupils of any age to develop the skills, knowledge, understanding, language and confidence to seek help as needed for themselves or others.  We can help them to understand when such help might be needed, what help is available and what is the likely outcome of seeking support. Additionally, talking openly with children and young people about mental health issues is a simple and effective means of breaking down the associated stigma.

“This guidance, along with companion lesson plans to be released during the summer term 2015, will help schools to prepare to teach about mental health and emotional health safely and sensitively.”