The Dangerous Rise of Therapeutic Education: 10 Years On
Battle of Ideas 2018 Bookshop Salons
Saturday 13th October 2018
A panel of four educationalists including Dennis Hayes, David Perks and Louise Burton at the recent Battle of Ideas debate at the Barbican Centre shared the view that as a result of too much focus on Talking Therapies in schools, we are creating a “snowflake generation; children who will grow up to be adults without resilience, unusually sensitive and unable to cope.” Have children/young people indeed learned to pathologise normal feelings associated with growing up or are we seeing the beginnings of what could be termed a mental health crisis?
Kathryn Ecclestone, visiting professor of education was unfortunately not able to attend sent a spokesperson who presented her stance. Ecclestone has co-written a book, ‘The dangerous rise of therapeutic education’, arguing against therapy in educational settings and at the end of the book she includes the famous Socrates quotation “I think therefore I am” emphasising the point that schools need to remain focused on intellect as it is not ‘I feel therefore I am’. Her co-author, Dennis Hayes, has worked in university settings both nationally and internationally and he shared that universities see our young people as having vulnerable minds and Talking Therapies only “makes the problem worse.”
David Berks runs a secondary school in East London and believes that the problems that children encounter are initiated from within their families or via other adults. He argues that the reason why we are where we are is due to adults not taking responsibility and the focus on mental health in school is not going to help.We are not taking societal problems seriously. However he added “if we say something to a child, they will start cutting (self-harming)” highlighting I guess the “snowflake generation” being created but there was too much expectation on schools with regards to early intervention and supporting mental health issues. Mental health should not be part of the school curriculum.
That being said I did observe that there was no counter argument posed regarding the benefits of early intervention; only 1 in 4 children/young people with mental health problems receive any support or treatment and yet research has shown that half of all people with mental health problems have experienced their first signs and symptoms by the age of 14. Incidentally there are a third of young people who self-harm, so something needs to be done but what and where?
There is also evidence based practice which demonstrates not only the financial benefits as a result of early intervention (Investing in Children’s Mental Health – Centre for Mental Health Report) but also the long term mental health benefits. Qualitative feedback from Children/Young People and their families also confirms the benefits of talking therapies (Place2Be & Young Minds).
The panel were all representing similar viewpoints; no counter argument. Therefore this was not a battle of ideas but more a collective stance to remove therapy from educational settings so that teachers could concentrate on the intellectual abilities of the children in their care regardless of their emotional wellbeing. Yet attachment theory and neuroscience clearly outlines the reduced capacity to learn as a direct result of emotional issues. With the growing demands on an already stretched CAMHs (Child and Adolescents Mental Health Services), I pose the question again, have children/young people indeed learned to pathologise normal feelings associated with growing up or are we seeing the beginnings of what could be termed a mental health crisis?
© Tiemo Talk of the Town
- Supporting children’s mental health is a good investment – Centre for Mental Health
- Improving Mental Health Services for Young People Department of Health report – 17th March 2015
- The Dangerous Rise of Therapeutic Eduation: 10 Years On – Battle of Ideas 2018
- The Dangerous Rise of Therapeutic Education by Kathryn Ecclestone & Dennis Hayes
- Should Youngsters Be Leading the War on Gun Control in America and the Brexit Battle in the UK? – Battle of Ideas 2018 Tiemo review – 28th October 2018