Facts4Life is about mental as well as physical health and illness – in fact, the two are inextricably linked. For example, eating and sleeping well are very important for mental health, and psychological stress has a big impact on physical wellbeing. The Facts4Life education resource for schools, supported by Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group, takes a holistic approach to health, drawing attention to the interplay between mental and physical health and illness.
Many children and their family members will experience periods of psychological ill-health. The Facts4Life teaching resource aims to support exploration of mental as well as physical health in the classroom, in a way which lessens fear and reduces stigma. This will mean that children and young people will be better equipped to manage their own mental wellbeing, and to support others.
Thanks to funding from Stroud District Council, we have been working with young people from their Youth Council on developing the mental health aspects of the Facts4Life teaching resource. They have advised us about the key concerns of children and young people and are also telling us about how they think teachers should tackle the issues. In particular, they want to be able to speak freely in class about mental health and illness, and to know what they can do to take care of their own mental wellbeing.
According to Jess Jenkins, Youth Support Worker for Stroud District Council’s Youth Council, ‘the members of the Health Focus Group think there needs to be much more discussion about mental health and illness in schools, and are very enthusiastic about Facts4Life as a way of doing this’. As one young member puts it, ‘Facts4Life is a unique project that enables children to consider wellbeing and illness with a different mindset’.
The new Facts4Life teaching resource will be available by April 2016 and primary schools in Gloucestershire will be trained to deliver it. A secondary education resource will be trialled in the summer with selected schools.