John Tomsett

Words matter when we’re talking about mental health

In education we need to distinguish between mental health and mental illness – we can't afford to direct scarce resources to students who claim that they feel 'depressed' when they are merely fed up, writes one headteacher

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The current mental health “crisis” in our schools is a significant challenge for school leaders. If we are going to meet the challenge, it is essential we define the terminology we use when discussing mental health.

The distinction between mental health and mental illness seems key to understanding whether or not we have a mental health “crisis” in our schools.

A front page headline in The Times last summer epitomised the perils of careless terminology when discussing young people’s mental health: “Teenagers struck by depression ‘epidemic’”.

Words like “epidemic” suggest that mental health ...

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