Mental health on the curriculum in Scotland
The national curriculum in Scotland is known as the Curriculum for Excellence, or CfE.
The CfE is split into eight curriculum areas, and has mental health and wellbeing threaded throughout. The aims of the curriculum are to develop children as:
- Successful learners
- Confident individuals
- Responsible citizens
- Effective contributors
The specific area of the CfE which covers mental health and wellbeing is called Health and Wellbeing. Each area of the curriculum has its own experiences and outcomes (often called Es+Os).
Through teaching Health and Wellbeing, schools should:
- develop children’s self-awareness, self-worth and respect for others
- help children to meet challenges, manage change and build relationships
- build children’s resilience and confidence
- understand and develop children’s physical, mental and spiritual wellbeing and social skills.
Heath and wellbeing in primary schools
As a subject, Health and Wellbeing has six organisers:
- mental, emotional, social and physical wellbeing (MESP)
- planning for choices and changes
- physical education, physical activity and sport
- food and health
- substance misuse
- relationships, sexual health and parenthood (RSHP)
What children will learn under these organisers depends on their age and phase of learning – for example, younger children will learn about the basics of eating healthily, whereas older children will learn more about actually preparing healthy food. However, the mental, emotional, social and physical wellbeing part of the subject applies to children of all ages.
Within Health and Wellbeing, there are a number of experiences and outcomes that children should be taught consistently throughout their education.
Examples of these Es+Os include:
Mental and emotional wellbeing
- I am aware of and able to express my feelings and am developing the ability to talk about them.
- I know that we all experience a variety of thoughts and emotions that affect how we feel and behave, and I am learning ways of managing them.
- I understand the importance of mental wellbeing and that this can be fostered and strengthened through personal coping skills and positive relationships. I know that it is not always possible to enjoy good mental health and that if this happens there is support available.
- I recognise that each individual has a unique blend of abilities and needs. I contribute to making my school community one which values individuals equally and is a welcoming place for all.
- I make full use of and value the opportunities I am given to improve and manage my learning, and, in turn, I can help to encourage learning and confidence in others.
- Representing my class, school and/or wider community encourages my self-worth and confidence and allows me to contribute to and participate in society.
Find out more
To see a full breakdown of Health and Wellbeing, and what progressive learning in the subject should look like, you can take a look at the ‘experiences and outcomes’ document from Education Scotland.
For more information on the framework behind Health and Wellbeing, and what it means for teachers and practitioners, this ‘principles and practice’ document may be useful.
Getting It Right For Every Child
Health and wellbeing education forms a key part of the Scottish government's Getting It Right For Every Child (GIRFEC) strategy.
For more information about the link between Health and Wellbeing and GIRFEC, take a look at the 2019 review of personal and social education.