Statistics show that three students in an average classroom will have a mental health problem and the Time to Change initiative is urging schools to make this November a month of action.
Its “Make Time in November” campaign is asking secondary schools in England to sign up and make use of a range of free resources in assemblies or tutor time.
The resources are aimed mainly at 14 to 18-year-olds, but can be used with year 7 pupils too. They are designed to give school staff a “simple, ready-made structure” for addressing mental health issues.
The resources comprise four adaptable video-led exercises, each requiring no more than 10 minutes. The idea is to use them across four separate assemblies or tutor sessions. The four are:
Make Time to hear about mental health – defining mental health and challenging common myths.
Make Time for me – everyone has mental health, just like physical health, and there are ways for all of us to look after ourselves.
Make Time for your mates – how to make sure you are there for your friends and the simple things you can do to help when they are having a hard time.
Make Time to stand up to stigma – inspiring students to challenge mental health discrimination.
The resources come with detailed guidance notes, ideas for ways to extend the activities and signposts for students and staff who may be concerned by the issues they raise.
A Time to Change spokesperson said: “Most people seriously underestimate how frequently mental health problems affect children and young people.
“Even if they are aware about mental health, many teenagers are unsure how to respond when they find out a friend or family member is having a hard time.
“Yet there are lots of really simple things we can all do that make a big difference. Part of that is seeing mental health as everyday and ordinary – as something we all have, just like physical health.
“Time to Change is trying to get as many secondary schools as possible to get that simple message out to their students.”
Schools taking part in November will be recognised as official campaign partners and will also receive certificates and be included on a roll of honour to be promoted in the media, including by SecEd.
The campaign comes after a survey by Time to Change, released in August, showed that 77 per cent of 3,051 young people with mental health problems have missed out on education to some degree.
The research also found that 31 per cent of these young people had been on the receiving end of derogatory language and that 48 per cent chose not to tell anyone at school or college, with many blaming physical health reasons for being absent instead.
Time to Change was set up in 2007 and is run by the charities Mind and Rethink Mental Illness.
For more information and to register for the Make Time in November campaign, visit www.time-to-change.org.uk/november