Marking World Mental Health Day


World Mental Health Day will be marked around the globe on 10 October and it represents an opportunity for teachers to discuss a number of key topics in class.

From support for pupils in the classroom and beyond to recognising the signs of mental health problems, the day represents an opportunity to put a serious topic at the forefront of teaching.

Introduced in 1992 by the World Federation for Mental Health, the day encourages people working with mental health issues to talk about their work and what can be done to enhance mental health care for all.

The focus of this year’s day is on young people and mental health in a changing world and a number of high profile organisations want to ensure that all young people grow up receiving the support they need.

Understanding what is meant by mental health

There is a need to recognise what mental health problems can be, and to understand why they’re important – especially as they are more common than you might think.

Mental health problems can range from everyday worries to serious long-term conditions, and most can be overcome with support and guidance, especially if people receive help early on.

Supporting young people in the classroom to have open discussions around mental health is therefore vital, as pupils and teachers alike should know where they can get support.

Mental health issues affect roughly one in four people and can range from problems such as depression and anxiety to rarer issues such as schizophrenia.

The government has also pledged £1.6 billion to help improve child mental health services in the UK.

What role do schools have to play?

According to Emma Thomas, chief executive of mental health charity YoungMinds, schools have a vital role to play when it comes to supporting youngsters who are experiencing mental health problems.

“While schools shouldn’t be expected to do the job of specialist mental health services, they can play a huge role in building resilience in young people and creating a culture where wellbeing is a priority,” she explained.

Mental health and wellbeing should also feature in PSHE lessons, and teachers can help pupils to develop knowledge by utilising a wide range of teaching tools.

A wide array of support resources for mental health can be found here, while the PSHE Association has an in-depth set of teaching resources too.

The #HandsUp4HealthyMinds toolkit from MHFA (Mental Health First Aid) England also features an array of downloadable content for schools, parents, youth organisations and young people.

To show awareness for Mental Health Day, all teachers and pupils are also encouraged to wear a green ribbon – designed to spark conversation around mental health so that people know they are not alone.