Social commentary 1 // Teen suicide & an inefficient education system
First post! I figured I would start with an article I wrote up, hopefully the boar will put it in their next print but we’ll see how it goes. Have a read, and let me know what you think.
Teen suicide- Why doesn’t curricular education acknowledge it?
When people you know pass away, it’s tough to say the least. When you find out that a friend decided to take
their own life, it’s not something you get over quickly. You question everything about your life and how you view the world.
You’re angry about having not realised what was going on in that person’s life, and how you didn’t pick up on the signs.
In the midst of the utter mess my mind was in following my friend’s suicide, I came to the realisation that I was never actually
taught anything about mental health in school. I don’t mean learning about various theories in psychology class, but what it means
to be depressed, what it means to have your mental health compromised, and how to deal with suicide.
As it stands, there are currently no mental health classes in the national curriculum for secondary schools. None. There are charities doing some fantastic work in schools educating students through workshops, but in terms of all the students in the UK, only a handful are getting any sort of information about mental health. Here are some statistics that highlight the major issue at hand.
1 in 4 people develop mental health issues.
The third leading cause of death in 15-25 year olds is suicide.
The fourth leading cause of death in 10-14 year olds is suicide.
In 2009, there was a total of 5675 registered suicides in the UK.
1722 of those suicides recorded were teens.
90% of teens who committed suicide had a diagnosable condition. (1997-2003)
Only 14% of teens who committed suicide were in touch with mental health services.
It’s shocking stuff. There is a clear flaw in our current educational system, which for some reason decided mental health isn’t worth being taught. This decision has had clear consequences for the general population and is ultimately ignoring those in need and further marginalising them. It makes no sense that the government and its associated department for education have failed to see that the mental health in the country’s youth is not some silly matter about creating english baccalaureates, or “A” grades being the be all and all in an individual’s future: this is about saving lives; I cannot stress this point enough. The physical and mental wellbeing of the people, both young and old, should be the priority- and with more and more pressures being heaped on teens, the need for mental health classes and a more efficient educational system grows stronger and more apparent.
If we’re taught about the importance of mental health from a young age, we’re better equipped to deal with such problems if they arise later in life- whether it’s recognising it in ourselves, or understanding it in others. Introducing regular, interactive mental health classes would be benificial to everyone; it would help remove the stigma around mental health by promoting understanding and acceptance of such conditions. It would also facilitate direct communication of resources available that students wouldn’t otherwise know about, and give teens the tools to indentify what they’re feeling. Skills and knowledge acquired through such classes are essential tools for coping with life, which can be carried into adulthood. Ultimately, it is about creating both a “grassroots” support infrastructure within the educational system that can develop into a nation-wide environment where people struggling with mental issues can actually get better, and not have to feel that suicide is the only way out.
It’s time that mental health is no longer relegated by default to drug prescriptions and ignorance; proactive measures need to be taken in curricular education to tackle the truth: not enough is being done to support those with mental health problems, and not enough is being done to prevent suicide.