Over the past two years, the world has changed in ways that were unimaginable just months before the coronavirus hit and caused lockdown all over the world. Everyone in the world has been affected, from the hospitality industry to caring homes. However, young people were amongst the most affected. In 2017, one in nine young people were reported to have had mental health issues. This has increased drastically since then, with the latest data showing that as many as one in six young people have mental health issues. However, the coronavirus has not been solely responsible for this increase in statistics. In fact, some of the most predominant antagonists in this case have been things that were around far before the coronavirus lockdowns even began.
Psychological research shows that as human beings, we are programmed to be able to manage relationships with 100-150 people. If our social group is much bigger than this, then we become unable to cope and form unproductive relationships. However, in most schools, year groups surpass 200 and whole school populations can exceed 1000! This creates a stressful environment, ripe to breed social anxiety and bullying.
I have talked to some of my friends who suffer with mental health issues, about how it affects them. Both Lily and Manleen suffer from anxiety. Anxiety is defined as ‘a feeling of worry, nervousness or unease about something with an uncertain outcome’. Manleen told me that her anxiety cause her “heart to hurt”, and it left her “shaking so much that she couldn’t even write”. I asked her if she felt that anything made this worse. Her answered was “school”. She said that being at school made her feel as if she had to work hard just to prove herself as she feels she is treated unfairly. Lily’s anxiety causes her to be unable to do everyday things, and she suffers from anxiety attacks frequently. She said that her anxiety affects her a lot whilst in school, however, she has also said that being at school does not help her at all.
I asked both of my friends if they thought that there was anything their schools could do to change this or to improve, and they both said that they didn’t know. Sadly, 75% of children suffering with mental health issues are not getting the help they need.
So, how could this change? Well, the idea of ‘human sized schooling’ is when each individual student has a curriculum moulded around their own specific needs, and easy access to the help they need. This can be achieved by splitting schools and year groups into different houses, each house occupying a different area of the school. Each house could have its own staff and teachers, which would allow each child to feel personally valued and prioritised. This is one of ways that could help to reduce the ever increasing reports of mental health issues in the young of our society. These children are the future, and they deserve to get the help they need.
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