Good news! Two influential groups of MPs have come together to insist that technology companies must fight cyberbullying and that schools must stop prioritising academic success over the mental health of pupils, devoting more time to making them happy and resilient. This has come from the Commons Education and Health committees. They have also urged Ofsted to ensure that schools' inspection ratings are linked to the promotion of better mental health rather than just academic achievement.
In a joint report released today they said:
"With half of mental illness starting before the age of 15, it is a false economy to cut services for children and young people that could help to improve wellbeing, build resilience and provide early intervention. More must be done to ensure that mental health and wellbeing are given appropriate prominence in inspections and in contributing to the overall grade given to the school or college. Achieving a balance between promoting academic attainment and wellbeing should not be regarded as a zero-sum activity. Greater wellbeing can equip pupils to achieve academically. If the pressure to promote academic excellence is detrimentally affecting pupils, it becomes self-defeating. Government and schools must be conscious of the stress and anxiety that they are placing on pupils."
They also call for social media companies to act against bullying saying: "Social media providers must not be allowed to duck their responsibilities for harmful content which affects children and young people's online safety and wellbeing. We head evidence of links between excessive social media use, sleep deprivation and depression."
Sarah Wollaston, chairwoman of the Health Committee said: "With half of all mental illness starting before the age of 15, and three quarters by age 18, the government and educators must ensure sufficient time is allowed for activities in schools and colleges that develop the life-long skills children and young people need to support their wellbeing."
I am SO pleased to see this and to hear that MPs have come together to fight for something SO important. The age of social media is so complicated and it is so refreshing, exciting and important that MPs are standing and fighting for this. 2017 has so far been wonderful for mental health awareness, the London Marathon's chosen charity being Heads Together and Bryony Gordon's interview with Prince Harry being two of the most amazing, And now this? I'm really pleased to see that this is a conversation that is being had and I just hope this gets the support that it deserves.