Three-quarters of parents say children should learn more about mental health and wellbeing at school

smiling teenagers

As Philip Hammond uses the 2018 Budget to announce funding for mental health crisis teams for children and young people, and following the announcement that all schools in England will need to include mental wellbeing and resilience in the curriculum from 2020, our survey with the Girls Day School Trust of over 1500 parents explores parents’ concerns about school pupils’ wellbeing.

An emphatic three-quarters (73%) of respondents say they would like their children to learn more about mental health and wellbeing at school. This compares with 61% who would like their children to learn more about personal finances, and 53% who want their children to learn more about online safety.

‘Mental health and wellbeing’ ranked as survey respondents’ biggest concern when it came to the future health and happiness of their children, cited by 68% – more than worried about ‘finding good friends and partners’ (54%) or ‘economic instability’ (29%). 90% said that ‘being personally happy and fulfilled’ was their greatest hope for their child in adulthood.

The GDST is a family of 25 schools across the country, with nearly 20,000 students.

Mumsnet CEO Justine Roberts said: “Of course parents want their children to do well, but more than that, they want them to be happy and to feel good in the world. It’s heartening to see government and school regulators taking this issue seriously; as a country we need to get better at supporting children’s wellbeing – perhaps by making a greater effort to model resilience ourselves.”

GDST Chief Executive Cheryl Giovannoni said: “Parents want academic excellence, but they (and we) should expect so much more from education. At the Girls’ Day School Trust, we pride ourselves on helping girls to be confident, resilient and fearless, in an environment where they are encouraged to learn without limits and are provided with outstanding pastoral support.

“Today, we have much more understanding about mental health and our own wellbeing. We have launched the Positive Programme in all our schools, which gives girls of all ages, along with their teachers, the tools to help understand and nurture their own wellbeing and to deal with challenging situations when they come. We aim to create a positive environment when it comes to mental health. Teaching these skills at a young age will really set our girls up for life, and in that respect, are just as important as other skills you will learn at school.”

Read the full data.