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Health Health

Teach children about the mental health risks of the internet

Last updated: 01:08pm 16 May 2019

Every child will learn about mental wellbeing and the mental health risks of internet harms in the curriculum.

Conservative Party Manifesto 2017, p.73

Our verdict

The most recent comprehensive survey of child mental health in England found:

  • an increase over time in the prevalence of mental disorder in 5 to 15-year-olds, rising from 9.7% in 1999 and 10.1% in 2004, to 11.2% in 2017
  • emotional disorders have become more common in 5 to 15-year-olds – going from 4.3% in 1999 and 3.9% in 2004 to 5.8% in 2017.

As part of efforts to counter these trends, this policy promises that all children will learn about the mental health risks of internet harms.

The Children and Social Work Act 2017 empowers the Secretary of State for Education to make elements of Personal, Social, Health and Economic Education (PSHE) compulsory. So the government is legally able to require schools to teach about mental health risks associated with the internet.

In July 2018, in response to a consultation, the government announced plans to:

“introduce compulsory Health Education in all schools other than independent schools, where it is already compulsory”

The response proposed that “mental wellbeing” and “internet safety and harms” should be included as categories to be taught under the umbrella of Health Education. The draft statutory guidance, due to become compulsory from September 2020, outlines learning requirements for both those categories.

With consultation undertaken and new regulations and guidance due to come into effect in 2020, this pledge is ‘in progress’. Once the teaching around internet safety and harms has become a legal requirement in all schools, we’ll move this to ‘done’. Follow this policy for updates.

Use the internet wisely, get the details

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