Our HeaducationUK crusade

About HeaductionUK

Led by The Shaw Mind Foundation, HeaducationUK is the national crusade for compulsory mental health education in the UK.

We have teamed up with key allies from the charity sector, mental health activists and clinical psychologists, to make compulsory mental health education a reality in all UK schools.

In 2017, our petition, which called on the government to make mental health education compulsory in schools, reached over 100,000 signatures in just three short months. This was a phenomenal achievement in itself and was only made possible due to each and every one of our supporters, mental health professionals and the wider community alike. It proved to be a clear indication of the public’s appetite for this kind of social change.

On the 19th July 2018, 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. Read the full response here.

The Shaw Mind Foundation also commissioned two polls and found that:

• 80% of British parents believe that protecting their children’s mental health is a top concern and 79% of British parents believe that children should be taught more about mental health in schools. (YouGov)
• 92% of teenagers aged 14 to 18 think mental health should be discussed in lessons at school, and 65% said they wouldn’t be able to identify if they were experiencing mental health problem because they don’t know enough about it. (Censuswide)
• Over 30 of the UK’s leading clinical psychologists and psychiatrists specialising in children’s mental health also wrote an open letter calling on the government to make mental health education compulsory by offering mental health classes (The Times).

Why do we need to make this change?

HeaducationUK’s objective of getting compulsory mental health education in UK schools will:

• Help prevent the development of ill mental health in children and teenagers, and aim to reduce the vast numbers of children and young people suffering from mental illness.
• Rid our society of the “sticking plaster” approach that the UK government have long adopted when trying to deal with mental illness in children and young people, and educate our children and future generations for a happier and healthier adulthood
• Take a huge physical and financial strain off the NHS, CAMHS, social services and teachers by providing teachers with the knowledge to understand and spot early signs of emotional distress to help prevent mental illness in children from developing further, thus reducing the risk of hospitalisation in adulthood
• Normalise mental health issues as an accepted human condition so that children will feel confident enough to open up to each other and those who care for them, and therefore create a more proactive society in addressing mental health issues, giving everyone the ability and confidence to speak out about mental illness.

The case for change

Our children’s mental health has reached crisis point. Mental health problems are happening right now in our schools and affecting too many of our youth.

• 75% of mental illnesses start before the age of 18. (MQ Manifesto for young people’s mental health 2016)
• Three children in every UK classroom are affected by mental illness. (Department of Education; Mental Health and Behaviour in Schools Report, March 2016)
• On average, it can take TEN YEARS to get help after the first symptoms of mental illness begin to develop. (MQ Manifesto for young people’s mental health 2016)

Until now, mental health was only taught as an optional component of the non-statutory subject, “Personal, Social, Health and Economic Education” (PSHE) – but this wasn’t enough. It needs to be compulsory to ensure consistency in delivery, and this is what we have been fighting for. Understanding mental health is an absolute life skill and should be just as fundamental within the school curriculum as learning to read and write. There needs to be a compulsory collaboration and integration between mental health education and physical education, so that children and young people can learn to understand that maintaining good mental health is equally vital to their wellbeing.

Mental health education is the only way in which we can effectively tackle stigma and relieve the enormous pressure on teachers, a stretched school curriculum, mental health services, the NHS and CAMHS, which will prove to be hugely advantageous for the UK economy in the decades to come. Providing the next generation with knowledge and understanding of mental illness will also aid us massively in normalising mental health conditions, eliminating stigma and encouraging open and honest conversations.

How mental health education was being taught in the UK

The UK national curriculum puts a lot of emphasis on teaching our children about how our bodies work, physical illnesses, and how exercise and nutrition can keep us healthy. These are taught in mandatory subjects such as physical education (PE) and biology.

Mental health education was being taught inconsistently in the UK, and only in secondary schools, despite one in five children experiencing a mental health difficulty before the age of 11.

Mental health education was only delivered during PSHE lessons, or sometimes during school assembly or drama lessons.

We believe that the system was failing our children by not providing the adequate and compulsory education on mental health at an earlier age. This means that mental health education is all too often overlooked or dropped altogether. Simply put, we weren’t equipping our children with the knowledge and skills to understand something that affects one in ten of them.

How mental health education will be taught

We firmly believe that we should start educating our children on mental health as early as possible. It should be compulsory within both primary and secondary schools, and be taught at an age appropriate level depending on which key stage the pupils are in.

Mental health education in the UK needed the urgent reform that it is now getting. Without this, the alarming numbers of children and young people suffering from mental health issues will continue to increase.

What compulsory mental health education will do

Compulsory mental health education in all schools will enable pupils of any age to develop the knowledge and understanding needed to seek help, if required, for themselves, their friends and family.

Having a platform to enable pupils to talk openly about mental health issues will help towards eliminating stigma, and facilitate discussion on specific issues affecting children and young people’s mental health; bullying and social media pressures, for example, often lead to high numbers of self-harm and suicide.

What's next?

Going forward, The Shaw Mind Foundation will continue to commission an independent report to show the long-term impact that compulsory mental health education will have on the workplace, social media, NHS, UK economy, and family mental health and wellbeing. Compulsory mental health education will be a game changer. Our report will also make recommendations on how it can be efficiently, and cost effectively, implemented into the curriculum.

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.

Generation after generation have been let down by the lack of education and understanding around mental health and positive mental health maintenance. It is vital to remember that good mental health education lasts a lifetime.

Support HeaducationUK and you will be supporting our children not only to survive, but to thrive.

“By the time a teacher recognises signs of poor mental health or emotional distress, there have likely been months – and possibly years – of opportunities lost where we could have intervened early and prevented deterioration. Mental health education isn’t just about classroom lessons – although this is a big part of it – it is also about changing the culture within a school community: supporting all children and staff to speak opening about how they are feeling without shame or discrimination. This is how we will change the world for generations to come” Kate Majid CEO The Shaw Mind Foundation

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HeaducationUK is a national initiative led and wholly funded by global mental health charity, The Shaw Mind Foundation.
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Our work in schools and the importance of delivering compulsory mental health education

Hope Virgo from The Shaw Mind Foundation visits The Henrietta Barnett school in London to give a talk about the HeaducationUK campaign. We also ask an existing emotional wellbeing specialist (Jackie Wilson from Kids Skills 4 life) about her role within schools and her thoughts on compulsory mental health education.

About us

HeaducationUK is a national initiative led and wholly funded by global mental health charity, The Shaw Mind Foundation.

Set up by Adam Shaw, a philanthropist, author and ex-sufferer of OCD, anxiety and depression, and clinical psychologist Dr Lauren Callaghan…READ MORE

We also work alongside several clinical psychologists and psychiatrists:

  • Dr Lauren Callaghan

    Lauren has over 12 years’ experience as a Clinical Psychologist treating both adults and adolescents...

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  • Dr Az Hakeem

    Dr Az Hakeem offers assessments and treatment as a psychiatrist or psychotherapist or provides a combined approach...

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  • Dr Sadegh Nashat

    Dr Nashat is a chartered Consultant Clinical Psychologist and Family

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Latest news

Our response to Jeremy Hunt’s new “Zero Suicide” mission

1 Feb 2018

Today Jeremy Hunt will announce plans to ensure that a faster response is available to people who are contemplating suicide. This will form part of a mission to achieve “zero suicides” in hospitals. Click here to read more

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150 children a day being denied mental health treatment

14 Nov 2017

The NSPCC says "too many children" are struggling to access support despite Theresa May's pledge that mental health is a priority. Click here to read more.

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Adam Shaw talks about his obsessive compulsive disorder and how he is campaigning to make mental health education compulsory from primary school.

9 Nov 2017

Selling your company for a multimillion-pound figure is normally a passport to serenity but for Adam Shaw it was the starting gun for an all-action crusade for better mental health. Click here to read more.

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