Over the last week, the results of various studies into the mental health of the nation dominated the headlines, all pointing towards the fact we are reaching crisis point. However, in amongst this difficult news, we’ve seen the inspiring stories of teachers and a push for politics lessons to be prioritised at school to help make political affairs relevant and accessible to young people.
Social media, poverty and lack of exercise drive mental health crisis
A new report from the Prince’s Trust and the Education Policy Institute has shown that Generation Z are facing a mental health and wellbeing crisis due to heavy use of social media, growing up in poverty, a lack of physical exercise and bullying. Although these problems aren’t new, they’ve certainly been exacerbated by the increased amount of time spent on social media in the pandemic. Whilst the report highlights the role the new RSHE curriculum can play in improving young people’s understanding of social media in particular, it also calls on the government to provide additional funding to address wellbeing in schools – we’re hopeful that help will soon be on its way to support those students most in need.
Prime Minister appoints Dr. Alex George as Youth Mental Health Ambassador
One initiative the government has introduced this week to support young people’s wellbeing is the appointment of A&E doctor and social media influencer, Dr. Alex George, as a Youth Mental Health Ambassador. The plan is for him to play an important role in shaping children’s mental health education and support in schools. Alex tragically lost his brother to suicide last year and he claimed the pandemic was a significant factor in this. He has been campaigning for children’s mental health online and having a really positive impact across Instagram and TikTok where most of Generation Z spends their time. We’re really looking forward to seeing how influential Dr. Alex is going to be over the next 12 months.
Inspiring others: the deaf teacher who is breaking down barriers
Alysha Allen was diagnosed as profoundly deaf when she was two and was worried this would make teaching children a struggle. However, she secured a placement at Brimsdown primary in Enfield, north London which has a hearing impaired resource base; all the children are taught British Sign Language and signing workshops are run for family members and staff. Alysha was named New Teacher of the Year 2020 at the TES School Awards and has clearly had a really positive impact on the students at the school. It’s also great to hear about schools with such an inclusive ethos paving the way for other schools to follow.
Millions of young women promised free period products by government still not receiving items
Last year, millions of girls were promised free period products from the government but according to period poverty campaigners, less than half of schools and colleges have signed up to the scheme. Campaigners are calling for the government to make the scheme mandatory as period poverty surges during the pandemic because young girls don’t have access to period products at home. We’d urge you to check to see whether the school you teach in or the school your children go to have signed up to this important service.
Push to ensure pupils are 'politically literate'
Young people today have access to more information online than any generation before and the power to create political change through a social media post is greater than ever. According to one 18-year-old studying politics at school, this has led to a generation becoming “more politically active than any other teenage group this past century”. Black Lives Matter, the climate crisis and LGBTQIA+ rights caught the attention of Generation Z as they turned up to protests and shared their political views en masse. It’s great to see a big push by the APPG for Political Literacy and Shout Out UK to encourage quality politics teaching at every secondary school, aiming to improve pupils’ political literacy and ultimately encourage them to vote.