"Empowering young people to take charge of their own mental health"
GCSE Wellbeing is a syllabus we have written that's designed to raise the educational wellbeing bar. It's aim is to teach teenagers half a dozen modules that will help them build a portfolio of personal growth.
The GCSE will have a strong academic underpinning and modules will include positive psychology (the science of happiness), resilience and relationships.
The golden thread throughout all the modules will be young people aspiring to be their best selves and learning strategies and life skills to maintain their own mental wellbeing.
Our hope is that, one day, GCSE wellbeing will sit alongside maths, science and English as a core subject, and that it will impact positively on school grades across the board. Our research has shown that happiness is good for business (happy employees work harder, are more creative and have less time off sick) so common sense tells us the same principles will also apply to children.
Meeting the multi-headed monster of mental health problems with resilience, positivity, happiness, altruism and emotional intelligence is a tough fight. But it’s winnable.
It’s no secret that low-level disruption, burnout, anxiety, absence and mental health problems affecting staff and pupils alike are on the rise.
A 2016 Education Support Partnership (ESP) survey suggested 84% of teachers have suffered from mental health problems at some point over the last two years. A 2017 report by the Children’s Commissioner for England also found that 580,000 young people – equivalent to the population of the city of Manchester – are receiving some form of social care or assistance with mental health problems.
Statistics show that one in 10 children – an average of three in every classroom – has a diagnosable mental health problem, and that 75% of mental health problems in adults have their roots in childhood. At the chalkface, teachers will be teaching children who have anxiety, depression and phobias, and a scary number of children now self-harm. Worse still, these disorders now manifest at earlier ages.
GCSE Wellbeing has been written by Art of Brilliance, a community interest company that specialise in delivering positive psychology training, coaching and consultancy for schools and businesses. Lead by Dr Andy Cope, the group have worked with thousands of schools and businesses around the globe, including community projects that teach and encourage students to spread positivity into their own communities (such as Brilliant Derby).
Unable to change the system by ourselves, we're aiming to get the attention of the right people by shouting as loud as we can about wellbeing in schools. We think that we should be teaching pupils tools they can use to stay mentally fit, the same way we teach them to exercise to stay physically fit. The end result? Happier students, better grades, more successful lives.