(Telegraph) All children should receive weekly ‘happiness’ lessons from the age of five
By Laura Donnelly, Health Editor 10:00PM GMT 14 Feb 2015
Major new report says every child in Britain should receive a weekly lesson in how to be happy, and schools should stop acting as ‘exam factories’
It comes as separate figures show the numbers of children receiving counselling sessions because of exam stress has tripled in just one year.
Former ministers and Government advisors are calling for radical changes in the way British pupils are brought up, with accusations of a “grossly inhumane” failure to care for children’s wellbeing.
Their report, due to be presented to a global health summit this week will say mental health problems among children and teenagers have become “a massive problem” with one in 10 now suffering from diagnoses such as anxiety and depression.
The study by Prof Lord Darzi, a former Health Minister, and Prof Lord Layard, an economist and former Government advisor, calls for sweeping changes in the education of all children, so that “life skills” are given the same attention as reading and writing.
Under the proposals, school pupils from the age of 5 would spend at least one hour a week discussing their emotions, setting positive life goals, and learning how to cope with everyday pressures and social media.
Such approaches – dubbed “happiness” lessons – were pioneered by Wellington College in Berkshire, one of Britain’s best-known boarding schools by Dr Anthony Seldon, but are not used in most schools.
The new report, which will be presented to the World Innovation Summit in Health in Doha on Tuesday, says such lessons should be offered to every child, from the start to the end of their time at school.
It also says help should be offered far earlier to children showing signs of mental distress.
The damning report warns that the failure to offer counselling is not only “grossly inhumane” but economically inefficient, because well-rounded children are more likely to succeed in life, while those in distress are more likely to end up on benefits.