Making the grade

21 October 2019

How education shapes young people’s mental health

Kadra Abdinasir

Good mental health is vital in allowing young people to learn, build resilience and develop the skills they need to grow into well-rounded, healthy adults. But how can we ensure that schools, colleges and universities are nurturing environments which promote their wellbeing?

Making the grade (one of a series of reports produced for The Health Foundation’s Young People’s Future Health Inquiry and produced with the Children and Young People’s Mental Health Coalition) highlights the profound effects that educational settings can have on young people’s mental health and wellbeing. It identifies the way that timetables, lessons and cultures can make schools stressful places, especially for young people facing the greatest adversity. But they can also be good for mental health – for example through teaching life skills and creative subjects.

The report shows how schools, colleges and universities can better support young people’s mental health, including making more time in the curriculum for creative education and greater attention to the wellbeing of staff. Schools should be supported to teach children about how to look after mental health and to develop life skills, and exam systems should be reviewed to tackle the ‘teach to test’ culture in many schools.

The report calls on the Government to ensure funding for schools, colleges and universities enables them to create a healthy, nurturing environment, especially for children and young people facing the biggest disadvantages and adversities.

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