Improving Social Education in Scotland – Part 1

This is the first entry of a number on what I believe should be introduced in a national curriculum by the Scottish Government in the area of Social Education.

The SNP came to power claiming to really improve the lives of those living in Scotland and one way which they can make a real difference is to introduce a comprehensive social Education programme nationally into our Schools. This would equip the future generations with the social knowledge that is currently lacking.

There are several areas that need improvement. Currently social education in schools is very inadequate and mainly covers bullying, drink, drugs and some very basic things on contraception (with all these things being repeated and no additional detail added in year on year – and all varying from School to School). I envisage a system which has comprehensive Sex and Relationship Education, lessons on personal finance and lessons on Mental Health in addition to the alcohol, drugs and bullying classes.

I intend to cover Mental Health in this blog entry. Part two will look at Personal Finance and part 3 (most probably the longest one) will look at a comprehensive system of Sex and Relationship Education.

Statistically one in four people in Scotland will experience a serious problem with their mental wellbeing at some point in their lives. To put it into a classroom context that means roughly 7 pupils in every secondary school class (based on an average class size of 30) will suffer a serious mental health problem during their lifetime.

This large number means that it is important that we teach something about Mental Health in schools. It also means that it will be almost impossible for anyone in Scotland to go through life without being a sufferer of or being close to someone who suffers from some form of Mental Health problem.

By teaching about Mental Health in Schools we can also aim to help break the stigma attached to Mental Illness (while some progress has been made in recent times in this area, there is still a very real stigma attach).

I’m not proposing that we aim to teach school pupils (and in this context I really am talking about Third or Fourth year Secondary Pupils) in such a great detail that they’d be after a psychiatrists job straight after school. What I do propose is to equip them with the skills to understand what Mental Illness means and what the symptoms of the common Mental Health Conditions are.

By teaching the symptoms of the most common Mental Health conditions we can only hope that our young people grow up being able to spot where there may be a problem with their Mental Health and get help from professionals before it gets to a stage where they are seriously ill.

Mental Health illnesses can ruin lives. Even after the problem has been treated the stigma attached to Mental Health can have a profound effect for years to come. It can put potential employers off (more through ignorance than anything else). Being unable to find work does not benefit the wellbeing of the individual and can only serve to cause further damage to the individual’s mental wellbeing.

We owe it to our Children to equip them with the skills at school to understand the world around them as parent’s are failing to take responsibility and do it themselves and in such a specialised area would we really want parents attempting to educate their children? The answer is probably not. That is why we must act now and build in such lessons to the PSHE lessons at school.