Today is World Mental Health Day, a day to acknowledge the importance of good mental health and the continuing work to protect and support the mental health of people around the world. Days such as this provide an opportunity to remind ourselves of the value of being more open and mindful of our own and others’ mental health and wellbeing.
Although mental health itself remains a huge challenge for society, we have seen a gradual, though significant, erosion of the stigma which used to surround it. Stigma only exacerbates distress and hinders help seeking. Its eradication enables us to tackle the root causes of poor mental health more easily.
Mental health difficulties often begin in childhood. That’s why prevention and early intervention is so crucial. In Wales, we take a whole school, whole system approach to looking after children’s mental health and wellbeing. Young people have told us they don’t want us to medicalise growing up. We support them to feel able to open up, look out for their own and other people’s mental health and how to find help if they need it.
We are implementing our ‘whole-school approach’ to mental health, with cohesive support networks for children if they need it, and our NEST /Nyth framework, designing local services with a “no wrong door” approach and creating ‘nests’ of trusted adults around where children spend their lives – their home, their school, their youth club, their sports club. We are committed to this principle and have more than doubled spending on mental health support in and out of schools in the last two years alone, with our investment growing in the coming years.
I am proud that our new Curriculum for Wales has a far greater emphasis on health and well-being than ever before. Schools now have a legal duty to consider children’s mental health and emotional well-being when deciding how their curriculum is taught, which could be transformative for many young people whose achievements and opportunities are limited by their mental struggles.
All learners, at the appropriate time and in the right way, will learn about mental health and when, and how, to seek support. Children will develop an awareness of how they are feeling and strategiesfor dealing with difficult or confusing emotions. They will be better equipped with the skills and resilience to help them overcome the numerous challenges that life will inevitably throw their way.
These action combined, and taken collectively as a society, will help deliver greater wellbeing for our young people of today, and into the future.
Lynne Neagle, Deputy Minister for Mental Health and Wellbeing