There is increasing awareness about young people’s and students’ mental health. But we need more than awareness. We need action.
Mental health problems affect one in ten children and young people. 27% of university students report experiencing mental health problems, with higher rates among women and LGBT+ students. Young people’s mental health is worsening: depression and anxiety among teenagers have increased by 70% in the past 25 years ; in 2015, 231 young people aged 10-19 took their own lives, the highest number for 14 years.
Staff in schools, colleges and universities also face increasing stress, with ever-rising workload, stretched resources, inspections and job insecurity. Many are leaving their jobs. Working in education is the second most stressed profession, with 2,310 cases of work-related stress, depression or anxiety.
We refuse to allow this appalling situation to continue unchallenged.
We need support services for these students, young people and education workers. We also need to address the reasons that they are becoming mentally unwell, including: exam pressure; bullying; large class sizes; authoritarian school regimes; rigidity of the curriculum; financial hardship; and cuts in Special Educational Needs support. Government policies, driven by austerity and hostility to public services, have made these worse.
We want an education system where students get the individual attention they need; where they can learn about their subjects rather than about how to pass the next exam; where they do not have to work in low-paid, insecure jobs while trying to study for a degree; and where staff have secure jobs with decent pay and conditions. These and other policies will also make education more accessible to those who currently do not take part in it.
We want to campaign to Take The Stress Out Of Studying, uniting students, workers, parents, trade unions and the labour movement to draw up and mobilise for demands that will reverse austerity attacks, reduce distress and improve mental health. We invite you to help us build such a campaign.
Signatories: Joe Booth, school student; Mandy Hudson, Equality seat, National Educational Union (ex-NUT section); Zack Muddle, NCAFC (National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts) National Committee, Bristol Labour LGBT+ Officer; Lorna Tooley, Young Members’ Committee President, National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers; Stuart Jordan, Secretary, Truro and Falmouth Constituency Labour Party; Janine Booth, co-Chair, TUC Disabled Workers’ Committee
If you would like to add your name, please comment below or email Joe Booth firstname.lastname@example.org