You feel the way that you think, and now UK school children are being taught how to think more positively to help them cope with the stresses of teenage life. Initially, 1500 11-year olds from 22 schools are being given lessons on how to assess situations objectively, how to be assertive and many other skills that can help them cope better with emotionally difficult situations. If the scheme is a success then it could be expanded into class rooms on a national scale.
The scheme uses lessons taught in the USA by the Penn Resiliency Program, based in Philadelphia, which adopts tried and tested cognitive behavioural therapy techniques to â€˜detect inaccurate thoughts, to evaluate the accuracy of those thoughts, and to challenge negative beliefs by considering alternative interpretationsâ€™.
Teaching children cognitive behavioural therapy could help them avoid problems later on in life
Whilst some might remember their school days with fond memories, childhood can be a difficult period because of peer pressure, the desire to fit in and having to cope with all the struggles of teenage life.
Psychotherapists believe that itâ€™s during childhood that you form your belief system: opinions on yourself, other people and the world around you. Upsetting childhood experiences, such as being neglected or bullied, can lead to problems later on in life because of the negative associations you attach to similar situations.
So equipping impressionable school children with the skills to identify inaccurate, unhelpful thoughts and then to replace them with healthier, happier ways of thinking could prove invaluable in helping them grow into secure, confident adults.
Treatment for anxiety and depression is a global issue
In a 2006 international survey UK children ranked bottom for happiness and well being. Some blame celebrity culture, with its focus on money and possessions, for giving children an unhelpful value system (although the problem is far more complicated than a single root cause). However, teaching them how to feel confident and secure, without needing the latest designer clobber or the approval of others, could be coming at just the right time.
Awareness on the effectiveness of cognitive behavioural therapy, for treating anxiety and depression, is spreading all the time. The UKâ€™s â€˜happiness tsarâ€™ Professor Richard Layard even believes it could help people living on benefits to get back to work.
With depression the worldâ€™s biggest mental health problem, teaching more people cognitive behavioural therapy (whether self taught, with a therapist or in a group) could make a positive impact on not just on the lives of children but society in general.