In light of children’s mental health week which runs from 7-13 February 2022 - mental health charity ‘Beyond’ founder, Jonny Benjamin - highlights the importance of discussing mental health from a young age.

Jonny Benjamin MBE is the founder of children’s mental health charity Beyond / Photo credit: Beyond
Jonny Benjamin MBE is the founder of children’s mental health charity Beyond / Photo credit: Beyond

Reduce Stigma

There is still a stigma attached to mental illness. Through my own personal work in schools and colleges, where I have been leading talks and workshops on mental health for several years, there is sadly a definite stigma which exists that we must continue to work hard to remove. I tend to find it is usually young boys that are especially affected.

Reduce Suicide Rate

Over 200 schoolchildren take their own lives every single year in the UK according to charity Papyrus. It’s a shocking and horrifying statistic. But it is something that we can change, hence the urgent need for more mental health education from a younger age, as well as wellbeing support, within all educational settings.

Mindfulness Works

Lots of research shows that young people’s brains are developing until around the age of 25. Therefore, school is a critical time in which we can help create healthy brains focused on positive behaviour and thinking. In an increasing number of primary and pre-school settings, activities like mindfulness are being shown to have long-lasting, positive effects on children. However, young minds are disappointingly not given the priority that other areas such as dental health or road safety are when a child is growing up.

Beneficial Impact of Mental Health Education

Mental health education has a beneficial impact on student’s lives. Through the activity we’ve been doing in schools and colleges at our national youth mental health charity Beyond, teachers have reported seeing overwhelmingly positive results from our interventions. These include a range of things from yoga to meditation to art therapy.

Use of Technology Needs to Change

Technology, and in particular, social media, has come a very long way in such a short space of time. Unfortunately, though, the education and guidance on how best to use it, has not been implemented at the same speed. Many parents have told us that they are increasingly concerned about their children’s use of both smart phones and social media. Issues such as cyberbullying and addiction are becoming more and more out of control at an alarming speed. I would personally like to see technology companies taking responsibility for teaching us how best to use their software for the sake of our wellbeing.

Brain Education is as Needed as Physical Education

Physical education, or PE as it is known for short, has been a compulsory subject on our national curriculum for almost a decade. We all know the importance of something like sport in combatting physical health problems such as obesity. Similarly, there has also been much attention given to healthy school meals, with Jamie Oliver famously campaigning on the issue since 2005. The brains of our next generation surely need as much focus as their bodies, and mental health education is a great way to ensure this occurs.

Impact of Pandemic

The past couple of years during the pandemic have had a profound effect on many people’s mental health, but we know that young people have been particularly impacted. A survey by the charity Young Minds earlier in 2021 found that two-thirds of youngsters believed Covid would have a negative long-term impact on their mental health. We need to address this now before we reach an unmitigated crisis. As the pandemic continues to wreak havoc into yet another year, I would like to see the government place just as much attention on keeping us all emotionally healthy, as they are on keeping everyone physically safe.


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Mental health Campaigner Jonny Benjamin MBE is the Founder of children’s mental health charity Beyond, a charity which exists to improve young people’s mental health in the UK. Beyond helps schools and other organisations that are underfunded to make a difference to the mental health of young people up and down the UK by giving out grants, sharing knowledge and best practice.

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