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Mental illness in primary schools: Why parents are the problem — psychologist

A leading psychologist says parents need as much professional help as their children when it comes to tackling mental illness among primary school students.

The Age has reported mental health workers could be dispatched to Victorian primary schools amid concerns about anxiety and depression among students.

“Sometimes you read things in the newspaper and you think ‘Surely that can’t be the case?'”
– Ross Stevenson

Dr Coulson says modern parenting is largely to blame.

“I think it has a tremendous amount to do with the way that we’re raising them today,” he told Ross and John.

“Research has shown that anxious children typically elicit over-protective behaviour from others like their parents or their teachers or the government, and this then reinforces to the child the perception that there is threat in the environment, and it makes them feel like they’ve got less control.

“In short … we work so hard on protecting our children, and we are often so anxious.”

“Prepare the child for the road, not the road for the child.

“I think that’s where we’re struggling too much; that over-protective, controlling kind of behaviour creates an enhanced sense of risk on the part of both parent and child and more anxiety for everybody.”

Burnso: Shouldn’t the psychologists be going to the homes of the children and treating the parents instead of the children then?

Dr Coulson: I think that’s the most effective and proactive way to go forward.

Click PLAY to hear Ross and John’s full chat with Dr Justin Coulson