Tackling mental health inequalities

Tackling mental health inequalities
There is a solid evidence base that whilst mental health challenges or illness can affect anyone, the risks are higher for some groups who face structural discrimination, such as those living in poverty, Black and Asian, LGBTQ+, or having a physical disability. 

The Centre for Mental Health has made recommendations to tackle these inequalities. Those relevant to schools include: 

Tackling racism

The daily wear and tear experiences of racism have been linked to a range of poor mental health outcomes, including anxiety and depression.  Racial discrimination and violence are also traumatic, which can result from direct or indirect, single or cumulative experiences of racism. This impact is communal, as well as individual. Repeatedly seeing discrimination and violence against their peers can have a negative impact on the mental health of everyone involved. 

Ensuring that policies and approaches are not directly or indirectly affecting students from racialised communities disproportionality is a good place to start. Building on this to ensure the effective participation of students from racialised communities will support the school to be ever vigilant to possible racism.
Boost the focus on early years
Ensure that mental health strategies and approaches are integrated as early as possible within the school, including the school nursery, and, if possible support for parents with younger (pre-school) children. There is very limited mental health support for very young children, so even limited support by the school will make a big difference. 
Implement the whole school approach to mental health
Ensure that the school is a mentally healthy environment, where all students are able to thrive without the fear of harm. Address bullying robustly. Offer a varied and engaging curriculum and allow space for play, exploration and physical activity. Providing the tools for children and young people to address problems themselves, so that they can play a role in solving even the big problems such as climate change, thereby building agency, autonomy and self-confidence. 

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