Education

Besides their primary educational role, schools are important settings for mental health promotion in order to teach children important life skills aimed at reducing acute and chronic social stresses and enhancing social supports, all of which have a direct influence on mental health. Schools need to be committed to improving and sustaining the mental and physical health of children. Mental health promotion in schools should include teaching coping skills, citizenship skills, examination skills and techniques, stress management, achieving potential in relationships and working situations, recognizing and combating bullying, learning to say no to risky behaviours, and education about parenting and child rearing, in collaboration with the health education programme and the addiction programme. (38)

Schools are an important environment for the prevention and prompt detection of mental and physical ill health of children. (39> In addition, in some low-income countries there have been specific education programmes for children about the different psychiatric disorders in order to encourage family members with mental illness to attend clinics for treatment.(40)

Inadequate education contributes to social exclusion because of the increased subsequent difficulties in finding work, and in participating fully in other social roles. People with poor educational attainment are over-represented in prisons and special hospitals, and are over-represented in those with psychological disorder in prisons/41

Therefore government departments with responsibility for education need to include education on mental health as part of the health and social skills elements of school curricula, and to develop the higher education appropriate for the needs of the country including generic courses, vocational qualifications, distance learning, and occupational standards. Provision of spectacles to schoolchildren increases performance, reduces drop-out rates, and reduces entry into child labour and child prostitution, particularly in ow-income countries.

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