This week marks the European Mental Health Week, a pan-European initiative that aims to raise awareness about the importance of mental health in our everyday lives. The theme this year is Mentally Healthy Communities, which highlights the need for collective action and support for mental well-being across different settings and groups. As part of this initiative, OBESSU wishes to reflect on mental health and secondary education communities, which include students, teachers, school leaders, parents, and other stakeholders.
We believe that promoting mental health in schools is a coordinated and complex task, that requires taking into account multiple factors such as social, economic, cultural, and environmental aspects. OBESSU is a strong supporter of the perspective that global problems need global solutions, and that community problems need to be tackled by the community, leaving no one behind.
On the occasion of the European Mental Health Week, OBESSU is sharing this “Call for Action” towards all relevant actors at local, national, and European levels, to ensure that secondary education communities can enjoy mentally healthy environments where they can thrive and flourish.
Our call for action includes the following demands:
- To have access to quality education means to be safe and free to experience the full learning environment. This includes not only academic skills, but also social and emotional competencies, critical thinking, creativity, and civic engagement. These are essential for developing a holistic vision of well-being in the education system.
- The school must provide a safe space and guidance to students, both individually and in groups, to tackle any issues regarding their health, including mental health. The school should also foster a positive climate of respect, inclusion, and diversity, where students can express themselves freely and authentically.
- Teachers and school leaders must be trained and sensibly attentive to the mental health of their school communities.
- If mental support is not incentivized and adequately delivered, this is detrimental to all, but affects particularly those already at risk of early school leaving. Early school leaving is a complex phenomenon that has negative consequences for individuals and society. Therefore, we urge policymakers to invest in preventive and inclusive measures that address the root causes of early school leaving and promote mental health as a key factor for educational success.
- Information developers and providers (i.e. School Counselors) should supply easy-to-find, easy-to-access, easy-to-understand, and easy-to-use information on mental health. This is especially important in the context of the digital transformation of education, which has been accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Schools should consider the permanently changed online health information environment, and thus provide students and educators with critical tools to communicate basic needs, and outline the proper way to design inclusive digital health services, promoting an effective literacy in the schools.
- Support initiatives, Invest resources and engage school leaders in the development of educational pathways on e-Health. That includes initiatives like the EU co-founded project “BLISS – Boosting health Literacy for School Students” and the efforts to develop a "European Health Charter" aimed at promoting health literacy in schools, which entails the ability to access, understand, appraise, and apply health information in order to make informed decisions for one's own health and well-being.
By enhancing health literacy in schools, we can empower students to take charge of their own health and well-being, as well as contribute to healthier communities.
Together, we can make a difference for the mental health of secondary education communities across Europe.
OBESSU joins forces and supports the MHE Campaign
For more info, press HERE