In the modern world, childhood is becoming increasingly complex. Kids face intense pressure and competitiveness at school, bullying, or problems in their home life all while living in an age of social media bombardment. A child’s mental health is easily influenced by all of these factors and in England, as well as around the world, more children are being diagnosed with mental health disorders than ever before. 370 schools in England are taking steps to provide support early and not only make resources available for children but to teach them strategies and mechanisms for maintaining a healthy mind and recognizing when they need help.
In the Keywords essay “Education,” Elizabeth Gruner talks about how there are different types and styles of education. Formalized education in school settings is one of the most common types where children learn literacy and foundational skills, social skills and how to “live” in society. She discusses how John Locke believed in an education that encompassed more than “classical reading.” Teaching mindfulness fits into liberal education discussed in the essay as it focuses on “‘the full development of the human personality’ and ‘the strengthening of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms.’” Children’s literature could also aid in this education as it is closely tied with how and what children learn. Providing books about mindfulness and mental health could normalize the topic with children and increase their openness to learn about and care for their mental health. The schools in England are taking part in this study and implementing a wide range of techniques to find the best practices and strategies to support children’s mental health
In Kirsten Learns a Lesson, Kirsten was sent to school in Minnesota not knowing how to read, write or speak English – a highly stressful situation to live and learn in. She attends a formalized school where we never see her being taught how to deal with the emotions she is experiencing, such as feeling out of place in the world around her. In Kirsten’s era mental health was not widely recognized and children were generally taught in school that they must be well behaved, not express their emotions aloud, and focus strictly on the work provided by their teacher. Kirsten could’ve benefited from the strategies being implemented in these English schools so she could better understand and process her experiences and emotions.
Childhood is such a crucial learning stage in a person’s life and if education about mental health can be incorporated from an early age it could have lasting positive effects through the rest of life. Education takes many shapes and forms and by incorporating mental health into schools (where many children spend a large portion of their days) in a positive way is better equipping those children for their futures.