Ruby Wax was quoted in the Sunday Times last weekend saying that ‘the competition in private schools was pushing children’s levels of the stress hormone cortisol to dangerous levels’. Wax, who herself suffers from depression, feels that children nowadays are put under more and more pressure to succeed, and that this could lead to mental health problems further down the line.
As if in answer to Wax’s claims, King’s College Wimbledon will be hosting a conference next month entitled ‘True Grit: Developing emotional resilience’ which aims to help students cope with the pressure of competition. The lead speaker, Professor Tanya Bryon, will focus on what makes a ‘resilient’ student – a student who is able to cope with the pressures of school and their studies, family and friends, and society around them.
This is surely an excellent move. The more young people are aware of their mental state and what they can do to try and keep on an even keel, the better. As a society we are only just waking up to the reality of mental illness – the government recently launched the ‘Time to Change’ campaign to make us more aware of mental health issues and the startling fact that one in four of us will be affected by mental illness in any year.
It would be wonderful to see more of the UK’s top schools following King’s College’s lead: we need to look after the mental health of our young people to ensure they are not at risk in the future.