100 signatures reached
To: Minister of Health, Minister of Education, Prime Minister (in her role as head of The Prime Minister’s Youth Mental Health Project)
Improve mental health education under NCEA
We would like the Ministry of Education, in conjunction with the Ministry of Health, to add compulsory health classes including mental health into high schools / colleges as part of the physical education classes that already take place.
We are asking for this to be implemented as part of the NCEA review that is currently ongoing. Both Ministries would need to provide extra funding for these classes, as well as some professional development for the current physical education teachers.
Why is this important?
NZ’s youth suicide rate is the highest in the OECD nations; it is five times higher than the UK and double the USA (UNICEF Office of Research, 2017).
While we cannot presume to know the complete solution, we think that providing teens with a weekly health class as part of the NCEA schedule could go some way to helping improve their outlook on life, as well as teaching them essential life skills surrounding topics such as mental health, food and nutrition, exercise, hygiene, sexuality, and other ways of keeping their mind and body healthy.
We believe that learning more about mental health issues, and how to get help for yourself and your friends, could be an essential part of reducing the stigma attached to depression and other mental health illnesses.
Currently mental health is to be taught in health classes, however from our experiences with and as previous teenagers, what is set out by the government and what is taught differs. This creates people who not only don't know about what to do when someone is feeling suicidal, but also a knowledge gap on other mental/sexual/physical health topics.
We also consider that these classes could teach teens to manage the stress and anxiety associated with NCEA and learn coping skills that will help them throughout their lifespan. We are losing too many teens to suicide and that loss is devastating, not only to family and friends, but to NZ as a whole, as we miss out on their full potential and contribution to our communities.
We are Massey University BA students working on a group project to improve mental health in New Zealand. While the overall rate of suicides is extremely concerning, we have chosen to focus on the teen suicide rate.
UNICEF Office of Research. (2017). Building the future: Children and the sustainable development goals in rich countries, Innocenti report card 14. Retrieved from https://www.unicef-irc.org/publications/pdf/RC14_eng.pdf
How it will be delivered
This petition will accompany an open letter addressed to the Minister of Health, Minister of Education, and Prime Minister.