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14 Things People Wish They'd Been Taught At School

From how to recognise depression to what to do in a power cut.

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We asked the BuzzFeed Community to tell us what they wish they'd been taught at school. Here's what they told us.

1. That self-care and mental health are important.

Becky Barnicoat / BuzzFeed

"The importance of self-care and just mental health in general. My health classes NEVER touched on things like anxiety, depression, or eating disorders. These things are increasingly prevalent and a lot of high schoolers could really benefit from learning about them, even if it's just basic 'This is what's happening chemically in your brain, and if you're experiencing it, you're not the only one.'"

– Maria Elizabeth, via Facebook

"I wish I had been told to take mental health days when I really needed them. Sometimes I felt overwhelmed with anxiety and stress and really could have done with one day to rest and feel mentally well again."


For information and support on mental health, visit Mind. If you're looking for self-care tips, here are 10 straight from therapists themselves.

2. How buying a house works.

Cathy Ngo / BuzzFeed

"My partner and I are in the process of buying a house at the moment and we have literally no idea wtf we are doing. We've done lots of research but it's so complicated it really would have helped us a lot if we had some basic knowledge of the process."

– beffers92

"What the hell is a mortgage? Why do I have to tax a stamp?"

– victoriat400e4b3f0

"Mortgages! I come from a family that has been renting through social housing since the 1920s, so my family has no idea how to help me understand owning my own home. I have no idea where to start or half the lingo... That was a lesson I really needed!"


If you're lucky enough to have the money to buy your own home, here are some tips on the process – including what on earth stamp duty is.

3. That it's okay to talk about periods.

Maritsa Patrinos / BuzzFeed

"We were made to feel like periods weren't okay to openly talk about with people of the opposite sex, or even our female classmates for that matter. "


Here are 35 things most women have done on their period but don't talk about, to give you some ideas.


4. How to recognise depression.

Becky Barnicoat / BuzzFeed

"I wish someone taught me how to recognise depression and how to deal with it. When I was in school, everything only went in one direction: I knew I had to be there and I had to get food grades, everything else was taken care of.

"Then when I finished school at the age of 17, I was supposed to know in which direction to go next, but I didn’t. I fell into a deep hole and it took me more than a year to find out what it was and to find the right therapist to help me."


To learn more about depression or take a self-assessment test, see the NHS website. If you think you might be depressed, speak to your GP.

5. What to do if you have a panic attack.

Haejin Park / BuzzFeed

"Mindfulness, or how to deal with a panic attack and anxiety. The first time I had a panic attack I was alone and terrified and I am still learning how to better deal with them."

– alessandradig

Here's 31 actually helpful tips for dealing with panic attacks. For more about the signs of a panic attack, see the NHS.

6. That there are different forms of sexuality.

Will Varner and Sarah Karlan / BuzzFeed

"Sex ed that actually addressed different forms of sexuality and didn't make women feel like the only reason you should be having sex is to make babies.

"To be quite honest, I wish that the students had been taught everything at the same time – in my school we were separated by gender, which only added to the awkwardness. It was strictly hetero, which didn't help me figure out my bisexuality any sooner."


Here are 37 things people wish they'd learned in sex ed.

7. That you shouldn't just ignore pain when exercising.

Flo Perry / BuzzFeed

"You are told to just keep pushing yourself in PE as though that is the

answer. We are never taught limits. What is a 'good, fitness-enhancing' pain vs a 'bad warning sign of upcoming injury' pain? (Five significant post-high school injuries later, I'm getting the hang of it.)"

– Kelly Johnson, via Facebook

Here are 34 workout tips for anyone who has no idea what they're doing.


8. How to budget and what to budget for.


"I wish I had been taught at school about budgeting and handling your money. Until you get a full-time job and move out from your parents' house, you don't really know much about deposits, rent, energy bills, groceries, etc.

"When I first started working I would just spend my money on myself, without looking to the future. When my boyfriend and I decided to live together, it took us over a year to save up enough money to move into a very small one-bed terraced house and buy the essentials that we needed."


"It's taken me to my thirties to be good with money. I genuinely weep when I think of how much money I have wasted throughout my life!"


Here's some advice on how to budget, and here are 13 things you need to know about money in your twenties.

9. How to evaluate whether scientific "facts" are true.

Zachary Gibson / BuzzFeed

"We were taught what science says, not how or why it was true. We just

memorised facts and numbers. Without understanding why things were true (blindness, control groups, peer review, sample size, replication...) anything can be considered a fact."

– Kelly Johnson, via Facebook

Here are 8 ways to be a more savvy science reader.

10. That diversity is about more than what you can learn in one assembly.


"We need proper lessons on diversity, not just a single assembly on Martin Luther King Jr. Kids NEED to know all people don't come from the same places based on skin colour, not everyone is either gay or straight, not everyone likes the gender they were assigned, and most importantly that no one is weaker and deserves more shit because of something they can't control."


Here are 12 books by British authors of colour you need to read.

11. What to do in a power cut.


"How to prepare beyond just keeping candles and batteries on hand; how to keep everything in your fridge/freezer from going bad, and how to know when it has; how to entertain yourself until the power comes on; how to help a more fragile neighbor (elderly or disabled) during a power outage, and that we all should."

– Sarah Anderson, via Facebook

Here's some information about what to do in a power cut, including how to register for extra support if you're vulnerable.


12. What credit and debt are, and how to use them responsibly.

Mastercard / Via

"What is credit? What is debt? How do those two things control our lives and how can you use them responsibly?

"My parents gave really excellent advice on how to save money, how and where to invest, and how to do my taxes but they left me hanging on the credit/debt part because they always paid cash for everything and had been mortgage-free for years! I didn't know what a credit card was until I was 20. I had no idea that you could take out a loan to buy a car!"

– Lina Zhang, via Facebook

Here's some information about how credit cards work.

13. What your options are if you don't want to go to uni.

Jemima Skelley / BuzzFeed

"I was in sixth form at a grammar school and all they focused on was sending their pupils off to universities. I ended up in a "special" class where we had to do research on job prospects and kept being sent on trips to the local teaching university, as if that's all they could think of to encourage us to do something as close to university as possible. It brought to mind the ridiculous phrase 'Those who can't do, teach' and was very demoralising."

– victoriatorsg

"If uni isn’t the right path for you, what other options are there?"


The National Careers Service has information about different jobs, including what qualifications they tend to require. You can search for apprenticeships here.

14. That it’s okay not to have a life plan.

Warner Bros

"My high school had us planning from sixth form, to university, to graduating university and beginning a career that’s realistically meant to last until you retire. Truth be told, I’m in university now and I honestly have no idea what I’m going to do when I finish. But that’s okay because I would rather make my mind up later than spend the next 50 years stuck in a job a hate."

– rhiannam48853d06f

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Note: Submissions have been edited for length and/or clarity.

Kelly Oakes is science editor for BuzzFeed and is based in London.

Contact Kelly Oakes at

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