Children want schools to teach more about mental health and wellbeing to help them survive life, according to new research.

The national charity PAPYRUS Prevention of Young Suicide says children and young people want greater emphasis on learning life-skills to equip them to cope with stress and anxiety.

In a series of interviews with 11 to 19-year-olds each age group said society is not taking mental health seriously enough.

Others said the emphasis on achieving academic success at school meant they were left feeling inadequate and ill-prepared for life beyond the classroom.

Speaking at the start of Children’s Mental Health Week the Chief Executive of PAPYRUS, Ged Flynn, said: “Being a child or a teenager right now is tough. We know that because they’ve told us so.

“Having recently returned to school after almost two years of unimaginable uncertainly and disruption to their lives, children are telling us they need to know how to better protect themselves when they are struggling.

“The pandemic impacted on their mental health and they are now reaching out for information which would mean they were better informed, able to identify when they are at risk, how to stay safe and where to get help.”

PAPYRUS is concerned that suicides among teenagers have been on the increase for more than a decade and wants to understand some of the possible reasons why.

“In our research, schools and education were mentioned spontaneously as the biggest cause of stress and anxiety across all age groups and yet schools can also help to lead a generation of bewildered children out of the darkness and into safety,” added Ged Flynn.

PAPYRUS says all age groups who took part in the research had also experienced either knowing someone who had had suicidal thoughts or felt that way in some form themselves.

During the pandemic the charity saw a 25 per cent increase in the number of calls, texts and emails to its confidential HOPELINEUK service.

In 2020 and 2021 at least one in every three contacts was from a child under the age of 18.

For practical, confidential suicide prevention help and advice please contact PAPYRUS HOPELINEUK on 0800 068 4141, text 07860 039967 or email pat@papyrus-uk.org

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