A MENTAL health charity has written to Dorset’s MPs urging them to support compulsory education on the issue.

Dorset Mind has declared support for the Shaw Mind Foundation, which is calling for compulsory mental health education, an issue set to be debated in Parliament tomorrow.

Earlier this year Dorset Mind supported The Shaw Mind Foundation’s petition to make mental health education compulsory in all UK schools.

The charity feels that this cause is a vital way to help young people understand their own minds and access support they might need. The Shaw Mind Foundation is the first UK charity to ever achieve over 100,000 signatures on a government petition. They have now successfully secured a debate in parliament, which will take place on Monday 6th November. 

Dorset Mind has written to all Dorset MPs urging support. The letter was signed by Chair of Trustees Ken Heap, CEO Marianne Storey, and Patron Dr Andrew Mayers. Currently mental health is only taught as an optional component of personal, social, health and economic (PSHE) education. 

Dr Mayers said: “Mental health education needs to be compulsory. Understanding mental health is an absolute life skill, and should be just as fundamental within the school curriculum as reading and writing. There needs to be a compulsory collaboration and integration between mental health education and physical education, so that children and young people can understand that maintaining good mental health is equally vital to their wellbeing.”

Marianne Storey added “This level of education is the only way we can tackle stigma effectively and relieve the enormous pressure on teachers, a stretched school curriculum, mental health social workers, the NHS and Children and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAHMS), which will be hugely advantageous for the UK economy in the decades to come.

"Educating the next generation about mental illness will also aid us massively in normalising conversations about mental health conditions, eliminating stigma and encouraging not just acceptance, but positivity about the subject.”

Dorset Mind is developing a fundraising campaign to raise money for a new venture, called ‘Dorset Mind Your Head’. The programme will aim to work with schools to normalise conversations about emotions and mental health, as well as develop a range of services to address mental health difficulties experienced by younger people in Dorset. 

Ken Heap, Dorset Mind’s chair of trustees said: “The timing of our ‘Dorset Mind Your Head’ campaign is extremely poignant with the timing of this parliamentary debate. And the endorsement of Dorset’s MPs could make a massive impact on the young people of Dorset and Dorset Mind’s ability to support them with their mental health.”