Written by Lesley Kituka
Hello everyone! I am joining the Sex Ed Matters team as their intern this summer and I am thrilled to be contributing to the conversation around sex education. My name is Lesley, and I am a (soon!) to be psychology graduate, so I am really passionate about mental health and how things like relationships, our environment and our upbringing can affect one’s mental health and well-being. Here’s why I joined Sex Ed Matters and what my vision is for the future of sex education.
When I first learnt about the important work being done by Sex Ed Matters, I felt immediately compelled to contribute my voice and time to something so important for young and vulnerable people. I really believe in helping young people find their voice and place in society and knew I could help by providing informative and inclusive information and by sharing my ideas and creativity!
I believe that when young people are taught about relationships and sex education the importance of it on mental health is often overlooked, especially when it comes to consent. I was taught basic things about consent like its definition but had very little knowledge about what it looks, feels and sounds like and how it promotes positive relationships. People understand the importance of consent in theory but don’t necessarily know what it looks like in practice, and they often don’t realise the impact it can have on your mental health.
Talking about consent can be uncomfortable but it is really important for building safe and healthy relationships. It teaches us autonomy, respect for ourselves and our sexual partner(s), and the ability to create boundaries for ourselves that contribute to positive mental well-being. Being able to freely give consent can help you view sex as something that you participate in rather than something that happens to you, which makes you develop more confidence and more likely to have positive and pleasurable sexual experiences and relationships. Also, learning about consent will make you more knowledgeable about the signs of abusive or coercive behaviour in your relationships and with others, protecting you from the consequences of abuse.
Misunderstandings of consent can also have a significant negative impact on your mental health. Without consent, feelings of violation, humiliation, and guilt can damage trust, respect and security within a relationship. In the future, a person's ability to form healthy relationships as well as their feeling of self-worth and self-esteem may be affected.
To finish off, understanding consent is really important for your mental health in keeping us empowered, safe and happy. I am extremely grateful to have this platform to share my thoughts and insights! Sex education is a really important topic and I’m happy I have the chance to talk about one aspect that I am passionate about.
Sex Ed Matters is a social enterprise dedicated to strengthening sex education across the UK! You can sign up to our newsletter here to stay in touch and up to date about our work.