A 2017 IPPR report revealed that mental illness amongst YP leaving school has risen almost fivefold in the past decade. There is also an increase in alcohol & drug misuse, self-harm & vulnerability to suicide. In 2016 about 250,000 children were receiving mental health care in England, the vast majority of those being teenagers.
And there is no doubt that older school children are now in environments that make mental health worse. A recent stem4, survey of 500 12- to 16-year-olds revealed anxieties, including exam worries (41%), work overload (31%), friendship concerns (28%), lack of confidence (26%), concerns over body image (26%) & feelings of being overwhelmed (25%). While anxiety may have always been encountered in adolescence, academic, social hierarchy & performance worries are more of a modern-day phenomenon, & the feeling of insecurity in YP is intensified by the number of adults suffering from mental ill health.
These experiences are being echoed around Europe
Our partners comment:
‘Recent evidence from Lithuania & Romania shows that upper school aged children are particularly vulnerable to social risks compared to adults. 0.5 m Children and students (18% of population) face factors such as emigration of parents, (often for work reasons) substance abuse, bullying, violence, institutionalization & reluctance to mental health services. Besides this, Lithuania has one of the highest suicide rates in the world particularly amongst students.
Objectives of the project
The project will develop, test & disseminate a modular curriculum and training course, & support materials which will be delivered flexibly in a broad range of settings from secondary School to colleges and Universities. The course will highlight a broad range of issues that our research has highlighted to be problematic for students. During the training each issue will be discussed, myths will be dispelled & students will be reassured by the experience of teachers and tutors. The course will use a blended learning technique which will feature extensive use of ICT in order to identify with YP, & encourage them to be as interactive as possible. This will include making instructional videos, self-completion work books, international interaction over a purpose built learning platform, & a series of poster competitions to highlight the issues & raise awareness within their school community. Students will have many opportunities to be actively involved in developing the messages & passing them on to their peer groups.
Target groups & needs to be addressed
Pupils and students aged 13 -21, at Schools, colleges and Universities will be the primary target group as they are particularly vulnerable to mental health issues according to statistics & reports quoted above. We envisage that a minimum of 920 students will engage in the project, along with 160 parents and 32 teachers. The focus will be those in danger of dropping out of school. In addition we will engage 24 outside organisations.
Schools, school staff and parents are also target groups particularly for providing contextual research to build the modular curriculum from, to provide support to students both at school and at home. Local expert organisations in mental health to consult/ advise on. All organisations and individuals to disseminate the project.
- Seven national pieces of research which will include both primary and secondary research to be pulled together in a national report by each country represented. The primary research will focus on the needs of the target groups.
- This will be followed by an international comparison report from which we will develop the curriculum and the modular course
- A developed curricula in the form of a modular course on understanding and practical application of wellbeing issues for young people, to be delivered to YP in schools, universities, colleges and a broad range of non formal settings
- A set of instructional videos which will allow remote learners to benefit from the same information brought via interviewing an experienced commentator.
- An interactive platform for students to contribute to and use as a learning aid, to interact with local and international students, and to improve ICT skills
- A set of worksheets to complement the course and the instructional videos.
- A series of poster campaigns to underscore the messages of the curriculum produced by students
- 7 multiplier events held in The UK, Sweden, Lithuania, Romania, Bulgaria, Portugal & Italy
We envisage that at least 1200 people will directly benefit, the majority c1000 being students, others including parents, teachers, schools, and partner organisations.
The project will be disseminated to educational establishments as well as local mental health support organisations, and will be sustained by networking, continuing with a website and social media campaigns and looking for complementary projects and other funding.