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Students in Suffolk tell Healthwatch they want better education about mental health


Students want better mental health education in schools, according to research conducted by Healthwatch Suffolk.

students working together in class

Healthwatch Suffolk spoke to over 400 young people at Thomas Gainsborough School to find out their views of mental health services, support, and education. The project came about as part of a local drive by health and care organisations to improve young people’s emotional wellbeing and mental health. Healthwatch Suffolk also spoke to over 100 GCSE students about their views of mental health and wellbeing and the services available.

What did people say?

Overall students said that they weren’t happy with what they were learning in their Personal, Health and Social Education (PHSE) lessons and wanted the school to run mental health awareness workshops. They also found that:

  • Most students did not know how to access services.
  • Students said they were worried about seeking help with mental health.
  • Students said they felt that they didn’t have enough PHSE lessons.
  • Students wanted to hear real stories from people who have suffered poor mental health to remove stigma and increase students’ awareness of local services.

As a result of these findings, staff at Thomas Gainsborough School received mental health awareness training from Suffolk MIND.

Andy Yacoub, Chief Executive at Healthwatch Suffolk said: “Any misconceptions about young people not being interested in providing their views and perspectives have been dispelled in our project work at the Thomas Gainsborough School. We found that the young people at the school were more than willing to talk to us about very difficult issues with the intention of helping both themselves and others.”

What’s next?

Healthwatch Suffolk is now working with eight other schools to find out more about what young people and their teachers think could improve students’ wellbeing.

Each school has agreed to survey all of its pupils as part of their PHSE lessons. Through this work, Healthwatch Suffolk hopes to help schools identify where improvements need to be made to support and promote healthy psychological development.

In addition, Healthwatch Suffolk will be asking teachers to share their views about what more could be done to support young people’s emotional wellbeing. They will be asked what they think about the availability of mental health support in Suffolk and how the current curriculum engages pupils with the subject of mental health and wellbeing.

Find out more

Healthwatch Suffolk will be sharing its final report and findings with those running local health and social care services to contribute to long term improvements. Find out more about Healthwatch Suffolk’s work with Thomas Gainsborough school in this video

Share your experience

If you would like to share your experience of mental health services or support, get in touch with your local Healthwatch .

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