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Our Response to the Government’s New Guidance
on Compulsory Health Education

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On the 19th July 2018, the government released guidance on new proposals for implementing compulsory health education into all UK schools, commencing September 2020.

The change in guidance comes after the publication of last year’s Children and Young People’s Mental Health Green Paper, which was updated following a debate in parliament – triggered by our petition and HeaducationUK campaign to make mental health education compulsory across the UK.

We are extremely pleased with this outcome. We owe a lot of thanks and gratitude to all of the public who supported us with our campaign, and to the MPs who joined us and debated our petition in parliament. Without your support, we would not have been able to drive this change forward. This is a huge achievement for all involved, and we are excited to see real change in the way that our children, young people and the next generation are taught about mental health and, more importantly, how we all talk about mental health.

Kate Majid, CEO of The Shaw Mind Foundation, said, “Whilst the proposals do not reflect our call for stand-alone lessons that are exclusive to mental health, they will provide an excellent starting point with which we will be able to begin to see a real shift in the way we speak about mental health and wellbeing. It will also provide our children and young people with the knowledge and understanding needed in order to identify mental illness and seek help.

This is the start of a new, effective approach to dealing with mental health issues. We are developing preventative strategies instead of the usual reactive approaches, which will allow us to help more and more young people sooner rather than later, and before their mental health deteriorates. It’s pleasing to see that the UK Government have taken on board what we have been campaigning for, and that they are now identifying that mental health is just as important, if not more so, than physical health.”

The proposal will now be subject to a 12-week consultation to discuss content and how the subjects will be taught, and we will continue to influence the content in these lessons to ensure that they realise the ambition. We will work alongside MPs, teachers and trainers, and put forward ideas and formulate a course that will receive the positive outcomes that we know this can achieve.

While 2020 seems far away, we will continue to support schools and organisations with mental health training both for now and after these changes come into place. It is key that everyone recognises the importance of understanding mental health issues and knowing where to seek help when needed. We are providing, and will continue to provide, training and education to support this.

More and more people are coming together to open up about mental illness, and it is becoming more widely accepted and recognised. Now, we need to embrace the changes in these proposals. We should take pride in knowing that we have given our children – and those of future generations – the ability to be open with how they are feeling, and will be providing them with the knowledge, understanding and life skills required in order to thrive in their communities.

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