You might call it a silent epidemic. You might not see things on the surface, but under-ground, it’s already on fire.

Waves of Anxiety in our Classrooms

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Nearly a third of students surveyed said academic work had damaged their personal relationships and left them feeling isolated.

‘A poll of almost 38,000 UK students suggests rates of psychological distress and illness are on the rise in universities, with “alarmingly high” levels of anxiety, loneliness, substance misuse and thoughts of self-harm.’

“Above all, a growing proportion just seem terrified of failure, and experience the whole process of learning and assessment as an unforgiving ordeal that offers no room for creativity or mistakes.”

‘The way universities are run is making us ill’: inside the student mental health crisis

‘British universities are experiencing a surge in student anxiety, mental breakdowns and depression. There has been a sharp rise in students dropping out – of the 2015 intake, 26,000 left in their first year, an increase for the third year running – and an alarming number of suicides. In the 12 months ending July 2017, the rate of suicide for university students in England and Wales was 4.7 deaths per 100,000 students, which equates to 95 suicides or about one death every four days.

The crisis in student mental health hit the news in 2017 after a high number of suicides at Bristol University. Over 18 months, starting in October 2016, 12 students are believed to have killed themselves. While the university tried to tackle the crisis, it struggled to keep up with the rising demand for help. In November 2018, a group of students gathered on a chilly Bristol street holding placards demanding better access to psychological support. The students told reporters that despite promises of more investment in student wellbeing, services were still badly overstretched…’-Continue to read

Teach us how to look after our mental health, say university students*

Students want universities to teach them how to look after their mental health and wellbeing as anxiety and stress levels surge on UK campuses, according to a survey.

Can You hear our Cries? So, Why are You Not Responding?

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Ninety-six per cent of the 1,500 students polled by emotional fitness app Fika think universities should offer “emotional education” on the curriculum to improve their resilience against mental health problems...The modules could help combat the “alarmingly high” levels of anxiety, loneliness, substance misuse, thoughts of self-harm and suicides on UK campuses, which were revealed earlier this year by a separate study of almost 38,000 UK students.

Recent research has shed light on the extent to which universities are struggling to cope with the scale of demand for mental health support services. According to universities’ own data, students with mental health problems are having to wait up to 12 weeks for counselling and support – longer than a standard university term. Despite growing demand, the data showed that one in four universities have cut or frozen budgets for student mental health.

More than a third (35%) of the students surveyed complained that waiting lists for counselling and mental health support were too long. More than a fifth (22%) said universities only offered support when mental health became a problem, rather than preemptively looking to build resilience among students.

With pressure on students to secure a good degree mounting, nearly a third (28%) said academic work had damaged their personal relationships and left them feeling isolated.

Sir Anthony Seldon, vice-chancellor of the University of Buckingham, said the mental health crisis is a direct result of how universities are run. “The pressure within the academic system to demonstrate quantifiable results, rather than turning out well-rounded, properly equipped graduates, is creating an anxious, ill-equipped and emotionally fragile generation of workers,” he said.

Several universities already offer wellbeing courses as part of the curriculum, including the University of Bristol through its science of happiness courses and the University of Oxford, through its mindfulness centre.

Willem Kuyken, a professor and director at the Oxford Mindfulness Centre, said that universities need to address the mental health crisis at its roots.

“The higher education sector has a duty to redesign its offering to bring emotional and social education to its heart, making these as foundational to the university experience as academic education,” he said.

Eva Crossan Jory, the vice-president for welfare of the National Union of Students, said that while wellbeing education could be positive for some students, it isn’t a substitute for tackling the underlying causes of stress, anxiety and depression.

“Poor student mental health is rooted in the material conditions that students are expected to deal with as they study, including financial support which is not fit for purpose and spiralling housing costs,” she said.

“However many wellbeing initiatives providers invest in, we can only ever scrape the surface of the problem if we’re unwilling as a sector to look at the root cause of the problem: funding and regulating an education system itself which reproduces and exacerbates social inequality.”- *Read the original article

Teach us how to look after our mental health, say university students

Dear students,

It saddens me to note that your calls, feelings and your cries for better mental health provision at universities have all fallen on deaf ears. This, is nothing short of shameful.

For many years now you have been calling for a better, more ethical, valued-led education. You have been demanding modules to deal with real life situations, not so much emphasis on abstract, nonsensical, unreal theories, models and so forth. 

Below you can see an example of such request from your fellow-students at the University of Manchester:

‘‘Few mainstream economists predicted the global financial crash of 2008 and academics have been accused of acting as cheerleaders for the often labyrinthine financial models behind the crisis. Now a growing band of university students are plotting a quiet revolution against orthodox free-market teaching, arguing that alternative ways of thinking have been pushed to the margins.

‘Economics undergraduates at the University of Manchester have formed the Post-Crash Economics Society, which they hope will be copied by universities across the country. The organisers criticise university courses for doing little to explain why economists failed to warn about the global financial crisis and for having too heavy a focus on training students for City jobs.’...Economics students aim to tear up free-market syllabus

However, be assured that there are many who have heard your cries and are willing to assist you, myself included. 

Universities, can, if they choose to, be at your assistance, giving you all the care that you deserve. But, this needs a sea change from their side. They must, once again, discover their pastoral role. They must stop their neoliberal thinking that they are a business and you are their customers. This nonsense must be stopped. 

Over the last many years I have tried to communicate this with them. The time is now for them to show that they are listening. Below, I have noted a few of those communications for your interest. Please help me to reachout to them, We owe it to ourselves to be heard. 

An Open Letter to University Leaders: Students’ Mental and Emotional Wellbeing Must Be Our Priority(2 October 2015)

Student Suicides at Bristol University: My Open Letter to the Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Hugh Brady(22 February 2018)

Rising numbers of stressed students seek help(1 October 2015)

The Report that should Shame us all: The Neglected and Abused Children in England(4 July 2017)

The scar on the conscience of Britain: The neglect of its children, youth, students and more(17 April 2019)

The blight on the conscious of the world: Why are so many youth and students killing and harming themselves?(18 May 2016)

The Path to Students’ Wellbeing: The Virtues of Living a Values-led Life

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1- A Sea Change in Teaching Values

Some say that my teaching is nonsense

Some say that my teaching is nonsense.

Others call it lofty but impractical.

But to those who have looked inside themselves,

this nonsense makes perfect sense.

And to those who put it into practice,

this loftiness has roots that go deep.

I have just three things to teach:

simplicity, patience, compassion.

These three are your greatest treasures.

Simple in actions and in thoughts,

you return to the source of being.

Patient with both friends and enemies,

you accord with the way things are.

Compassionate toward yourself,

you reconcile all beings in the world.-Wisdom of Lao Tzu: The Path to Virtue, Happiness, and Harmony

2- Ahe Sea Change in Lifestyle: The Virtues of Living a Simpler Life

‘Living a simple life is about paring back, so that you have space to breathe. It’s about doing with less, because you realize that having more and doing more doesn’t lead to happiness. It’s about finding joy in the simple things, and being content with solitude, quiet, contemplation and savoring the moment.

Of course, these are not the only gifts you’ll receive for living a simpler life. The best ones are the ones you will discover yourself. Try simpler life and see what happens — I think you’ll find out something beautiful about yourself, and about life.

In short, the best kind of simplicity is that which exposes the raw beauty, joy and heartbreak of life as it is; not the Facebook and Instagram life, but life as it should be: real, authentic, ups and downs, love and being loved…’-The beauty of living simply: the forgotten wisdom of William Morris 

3- A Sea Change in Social Media Usage and Engagement

"How can we see ourselves and our true purpose/talents if we are constantly viewing others?"… "Many of us are in so deep we don't realize [social media's] delusional powers and the impact it has on our lives."...Good on you Ms. Essena O'Neill: Social media 'is not real life'

4- Small is Beautiful: Economics as if people mattered

‘Schumacher’s Small is Beautiful is an appeal to the deep instinctive understanding of the common good that all people share. It is an appeal to our essential humanity. It deals with some of the most pressing concerns of people the world over, concerns which every generation must consider and answer. It is written in the hope of inspiring idealism and the desire to give the practical help the world so greatly needs. The book encourages us to reflect on and to understand things we all seem to have forgotten: What is Education? What is Knowledge? What is Wisdom? What is the source of true happiness and well-being? What is the good life? What is the purpose of economic life? What does it mean to be a human being living on a spaceship with finite resources? What paths can be recommended to shift the current destructive global political-economic order from one of unrestrained economic growth, profit maximisation and cost minimisation, to one that embraces material wealth creation, yet also preserves and enhances social and ecological well-being and increases human happiness and contentment?...’-Small is Beautiful: The Wisdom of E.F. Schumacher

5- Economic Model to Serfdom has Destroyed our Heart and Soul

Neoliberal policies destroy human potential and devastate education

6-Why Happiness Should be Taught at Our Universities

‘From the dawn of our creation, our ultimate desire has been to find happiness. This desire is in the nature of things; it is common to all of us, at all times, and in all places.  Nature, the material of the universe, is modified by us to create wealth so that this desire may be satisfied.

Today, at the dawn of the Third Millennium, our civilisation has scored its greatest successes in the material sciences.  Our glory is the willing application of these achievements to daily life: they have brought us enormous benefits. However, in our understanding of the forces governing the relations between people in society we have shown little aptitude.  So tragic is this failure that we have turned the masterpieces of the material sciences into engines of destruction which threaten to annihilate the civilisation which produced them.

This is the challenge of our time: we must either find the way of truth in the government of our relations one with another, or succumb to the results of our ignorance.

Many prophets, sages and philosophers throughout history have reminded us that there are two forces at work in society: the material and the spiritual.  If either of these two is neglected or ignored they will appear to be at odds with one another; society will inevitably become fragmented; divisions and rifts will manifest themselves with increasing force and frequency.

It is clear that this is exactly what has happened today.  We have a situation of disequilibrium and disharmony. Only the reawakening of the human spirit, of love and compassion, will save us from our own worst extremes.  Physical wealth must go hand in hand with spiritual, moral and ethical wealth…’-The Common Good Happiness Project: A Spiritual Quest for the Good Life

It’s All in The Mind: Focus on Mental Health

A GCGI Initiative: Examining mental health issues around the world, with a special focus on children, youth, students, their teachers and lecturers.

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This new GCGI Initiative is dedicated to the youth of the world, our children and grand- children, who are the unfolding story of the decades ahead. May they rise to the challenge of leading our troubled world, with hope and wisdom in the interest of the common good to a better future.

'A different world cannot be built by indifferent people.'

Lest We Forget:

A country/nation drunk on market values, guided by cruel machinery of exploitation, racism, class division, austerity, cruelty, aggression, that humiliates it’s innocent, weak and vulnerable citizens, with neoliberalism, poverty, inequality and food banks and celebrates extreme individualism, feral competition, worship of mammon, rat-race to a success that it can never deliver and ignores the struggles and plight of its children and youth, ceases to be civilised and sooner or later ceases to exist morally or spiritually.

VALUING WHAT MATTERS MOST

It’s Time To Face The Facts On Children’s and Young People's Mental Health and Wellbeing

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