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Topic: Mental Health Public Policy in Schools in UK and Finland

In the UK, children’s subjective sense of wellbeing and educational wellbeing is some of the lowest across Europe, comparatively. Children experienced an increase in rates of mental illness in the UK since 1999 and have been subject to a multitude of issues with adverse consequences for mental health.

These include funding cuts totaling £80m to adolescent services in the last four years, a lack of control over destinies and some of the lowest levels of life satisfaction in the world and finally, being part of an “exam factory” culture.

This “creates unnecessary stress and anxiety, and shallow learning… some children are being diagnosed and medicated because the school environment has become less suitable for them”. In 2018, 50% of young people waited a reported 18 weeks or more to see a mental health professional.

Half of all mental illnesses develop by the age of fourteen (Mental Health Foundation, 2019). To understand the development of mental health, we must take social and cultural frames of experience into account.

Contextually, school systems are both a protective and risk factor in mental development. Early diagnosis and treatment is significant as children are an important resource for a country’s national future and poorer mental health leads to poorer outcomes in later life.

Consideration of an educational institution’s structural determinants can offer fertile ground for the contemporary needs of a country’s public policy, especially when compared to the systems of neighbors.

Finland has some of the highest levels of children’s personal wellbeing and overall health, and the highest overall levels of educational wellbeing. Finnish students demonstrate the highest performance across all OECD countries.

The late-1970s Finnish National model was built purposefully against systems adopted by other developed countries like the UK. There are no high stakes accountability measures. Children are taught “Yhteispeli” – social and emotional skills. Early intervention is demonstrated through compulsory mental health for teachers and students

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