For students, the Queen’s speech should be a call to action | Malia Bouattia

On mental health, EU citizens’ rights and counter-extremism, there is an opportunity for student campaigners to make a real difference

The Queen’s speech was a dream come true for no one – except perhaps foxes, who will be relieved that there was no further mention of hunting. But for students, it was a mixed bag.

The speech was light on detail and heavy on Brexit. For the 84% of voting students who were opposed to leaving the EU, the future it outlined is exactly what we didn’t want. But there were silver linings: the announcement of plans to abolish letting agent fees and to bring forward legislation protecting victims of domestic violence, for instance. There are also plans to tackle the gender pay gap.

Related: NUS president Malia Bouattia: ‘Political activists are being demonised’

Related: Three steps to building a successful student campaign

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Exam stress rising? No, pupils are just better at seeking help | Laura McInerney

Of course sitting GCSEs can be a trying experience, but with good support, study pressure can be positive

Across the country at the moment, young people are engaging in a practice that will give them nightmares for decades. Nope, not fidget spinners or Snapchat filters: those give only adults nightmares. The real answer is exams.

It’s almost 20 years since my maths GCSE and yet the bad dreams are still the same. No revision done, the exam hall lost in a labyrinth of corridors, the start already missed. I am not alone. Exam anxiety dreams are among the most common in adults. Is it these painful associations, then, that mean a quarter of British parents report their mental health was negatively affected by having children who are currently taking exams? Or is it, as the parents will more often tell you, because watching your child break under the pressure is enough to make anyone sick?

Related: GCSEs and A-levels: how are young people coping with exam stress?

Among boys, the number experiencing any psychological distress has actually gone down

Related: Six tactics to help your students deal with stress

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Queen’s speech: what the Tories’ overhauled priorities may look like

Party’s manifesto plans will change in wake of election, with possible shifts in stance on Brexit, grammar schools and social care

The first Queen’s speech of the new parliament will be nothing like as ambitious as Theresa May had hoped, given the Conservative party’s lack of an overall majority and the need to rely on the Democratic Unionist party of Northern Ireland to pass legislation. Only a handful of key policies are likely to survive:

Related: Tom Watson asks May: did Murdoch request Gove’s return to cabinet?

Related: Q&A: how will the UK election result affect Brexit talks?

Related: Can party politics be set aside to save social care? | Paul Burstow

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‘It was quasi-religious’: the great self-esteem con

In the 1980s, Californian politician John Vasconcellos set up a task force to promote high self-esteem as the answer to all social ills. But was his science based on a lie?

In 2014, a heartwarming letter sent to year 6 pupils at Barrowford primary school in Lancashire went viral. Handed out with their Key Stage 2 exam results, it reassured them: “These tests do not always assess all of what it is that make each of you special and unique… They do not know that your friends count on you to be there for them or that your laughter can brighten the dreariest day. They do not know that you write poetry or songs, play sports, wonder about the future, or that sometimes you take care of your little brother or sister.”

At Barrowford, people learned, teachers were discouraged from issuing punishments, defining a child as “naughty” and raising their voices. The school’s guiding philosophy, said headteacher Rachel Tomlinson, was that kids were to be treated with “unconditional positive regard”.

To get ahead in the 1980s, you had to be ruthless, relentless. You had to believe in yourself

Vasco’s credibility turned on a single fact: that the professors had confirmed his hunch. The only problem? They hadn’t

What had really happened at that meeting? I found the answer on an old audio cassette, hissy and faint

Related: The appeal of narcissists: why do we love people who’d rather love themselves?

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Depression, opportunity and that life abroad – podcasts of the week

Rowan Slaney brings you three podcasts that chime with three significant events from her ‘teenageish’ years

• Don’t forget to subscribe for your weekly dose of podcast gold

Hear here is here. Hooray! Now, first things first. An incredible number of people have subscribed to this column. What a joy that there are so many of you who love the medium as much I do. If you’ve emailed in with your recommendations, I promise I’ll listen to them – I’ve made an excel spreadsheet and everything – but there have just been so many, it’s incredible.

Please keep them coming in, I want to listen to all the podcasts I can fit into my ears. If you haven’t subscribed yet, come and join us. It’s great fun.

You’d be forgiven for thinking that a podcast about mental health would be, well, a bit of a downer. In fact, it could be the type of podcast that people who live with depression, and those around them, might want to avoid. But then you probably haven’t listened to John Moe.

John isn’t a therapist or a counsellor or a psychiatrist or any sort of mental health professional. He’s actually a writer and radio presenter, and a long-term sufferer of depression. He’s also quite a funny guy, and that’s what makes The Hilarious World of Depression special.

The BitterSweet Life is a great example of an immersive podcast experience and of excellent storytelling. My favourite episodes are those where Tiffany and Katy record outside in the plazas of Rome, or visit different churches to find Caravaggio paintings. The splash of water from the fountains, customers chattering in Italian in the bakery, the screaming swallows overhead. I feel transported to Rome, and with very itchy feet, every time I listen to these episodes.

Secondly, the story of Katy’s year was an ongoing narrative that I invested in so much that I had to hold back tears in the episode when Katy was due to leave. The podcast shifts a little in content and feel when Katy returns to Seattle, obviously due to the changed circumstances. However, I continue to listen as I enjoy the relationship between the two friends. The episodes where they record WhatsApp messages to each other in the aftermath of the election of Trump, I thought, was a stroke of storytelling genius.

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The Reality of Pre & Post Lecture Reading

I was always told at the beginning of the year by various members of staff that to get the most out of the course and the lectures, we as students should be reading a related chapter before the lecture and again after the lecture. By the sounds of it you may not think of it to be such a large task, or even one that would take up majority of your time. Though, it isn’t only until you consult a text book, find the right chapter, and then half an hour later discover where it ends is where you really questions the pre and post reading advice.

Don’t get me wrong, I can definitely see why lectures say this. In fact I’d probably take comfort in the fact when I can nod to the lecturer as he/she covers points that I went through the night before. I suppose it’s all down to what they mean by ‘reading’. Do they mean just skin through the 30 page chapter, or do they mean pull out your reading glasses, put the kettle on and whip out your note book kind of reading? And to be honest, I would suspect I am supposed to go with the latter.

So why is it so unrealistic?
Well, it’s most likely the fact that it would take a very, very long time. Though, the other half is also knowing you won’t complete it because you’ll lose concentration, get bored, start to skip pages and probably end up putting it off for another day. However, at least it’s good that we are being honest with ourselves. A lot of people who might have tried it probably would have experienced a similar sort of thing the second time round.

So, on top of all that, how do you intend on remembering it all too? Is it just a case of jotting down key points? Well, the other thing is that you’ll have to re-visit this every now and again. Of course, it’s not possible to remember the whole chapter, and you probably won’t have to, but to keep it fresh in your mind those key points you took down will definitely come in handy later.

Other points which contribute to the fact that it might be considered unrealistic is because depending on what year you are in at University, you will certainly have other areas of academic work to concern yourself with. You will be given coursework to complete from time to time, which you will usually spend, doing in the times you aren’t in lectures. So, again, that can throw you off your pre and post reading too.

Perhaps another important area to touch upon is that fact that you won’t just be having one lecture a day, you might be faced with a busy day of 2 or 3 lectures, and the prospect of reading 20-30 pages for each can be impossible. Even just the thought of it is enough to put most students off.

Are there any alternatives?
Naturally, if you can’t seem to handle the reading suggested, there are other ways to get yourself indulged in the principles of psychology:

  1. Learn how to note take – pulling out the key points can be more efficient then reading books without making any written notes at all. It is usually the key ideas mentioned in lectures that you should be concentrating on, as well as other which might be linked to them. Create a habit of picking out the main points after each lecture on 2 or 3 A4 pages so you can look back at them when it comes round to revise for the exams
  2. Audio and podcasts – probably an avenue not explored by many students. But you’d be surprised of how much psychology related podcasts you can find in the iTunes store which are completely free. Majority of them are recorded in lectures which usually matches the syllabus in other institutions loosely. Definitely worth a listen whilst doing the laundry.
  3. Expand on lecture slides – although it’s advised to read more than what is put onto the lecture slides, if you’re strapped for time, you could look into the lecture slides and expand on them by reading into the book on those specific key areas, so you won’t be looking into anything that wasn’t said in the lecture. Nevertheless, those are the points you should be most comfortable with over any other additional principles.

Those are probably the few of the limited number of alternatives there are for reading. They could be as efficient as reading before and after the lecture, but perhaps it depends based on individual. However, they are certainly considered to shave off the time, so you can spend whatever you have left on finishing coursework and taking care of other aspects of your degree.

UEA course cut a blow for mental health work | Letters

Students and former students protest at the end to counselling training at the University of East Anglia

All the parties in the general election have adopted mental health as a key issue. But this enthusiasm is not reflected on the ground and the electorate should not be fooled. We are students and former students on the internationally renowned counselling programme at the University of East Anglia. We trained to be counsellors, or “shrinks”, to quote Prince Harry in his recent interview. But now the university has closed the course and even made it impossible for some students to complete their professional qualification. As part of this draconian process, in which consultation was at a minimum, responsibility to students, staff and the wider local community has been completely deprioritised. This is exactly the opposite of what the princes, applauded by the government, were calling for.

The impact is not only on the course itself, but also on those therapy organisations where students have for many years worked as volunteers on placement and beyond, and on the availability of the kind of in-depth listening relationship – described as so crucial by the princes – in the university’s own counselling service. The management-speak reason given by the university for this closure is “a need for greater alignment of courses and a more coherent portfolio of activity centred on the teaching of education theory and practice”. What is the point of accenting mental health if there won’t be any counsellors to deliver it?
Sara Bradly, Dr Rachel Freeth, Bridget Garrard, Nikki Rowntree
Norwich

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Number of university dropouts due to mental health problems trebles

Data shows record 1,180 students who experienced mental ill health left courses early in 2014-15, up 210% from 2009-10

The number of students to drop out of university with mental health problems has more than trebled in recent years, official figures show.

Data from the Higher Education Statistics Agency (Hesa) revealed that a record 1,180 students who experienced mental health problems left university early in 2014-15, the most recent year in which data was available. It represents a 210% increase from 380 in 2009-10.

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‘Isolated’ poorer students more likely to drop out, study shows

Survey finds that students from poorer backgrounds feel less well integrated

Less affluent students in higher education are significantly more likely to experience problems with socialising and integrating than their peers from well-off families, says a major new study.

Only 33% of the students from D and E socioeconomic groups said they were well integrated with the students they lived with, compared with 50% of students from A and B socioeconomic groups. Only 34% of the group said they had friends at university whom they socialised with at least twice a week, compared with 48% of AB students.

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Supporting LGBTI pupils: ‘It’s important a school is ready for anyone’

Schools today are much more receptive to students’ gender and sexual orientation, and are places where diversity is celebrated rather than scorned

It was not long ago that LGBT pupils at the Priory School in Hitchen, Hertfordshire, hid behind a mask of silence. Fellow students used the word “gay” to describe something that was rubbish. Faced with homophobic language, they felt unable to come out in the classroom and kept their true identities secret.

Three years later, dozens of students have come out thanks to a “massive culture shift” in school. Today, diversity and inclusion are celebrated across all aspects of school life: from the setting up of an LGBT drop-in group and appointment of an LGBT student champion, to changes in the curriculum and the building of gender-neutral toilets and changing rooms. Indeed, the school has established such a reputation for equality it is attracting transgender pupils from neighbouring areas.

Related: Growing up transgender: ‘I wish I could have come out younger’

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Children need to be in the right mental state to learn effectively | Tony Draper

Headteacher Tony Draper says that the ‘kaleidoscope programme’ used in his school to help children focus and deal with their emotions has had an ‘amazing impact’ on pupils’ mental wellbeing

There is a crisis in mental health for young people. Services are operating in silos and they are not working for over-tested, overstressed young people. Much emphasis has been placed on teenagers with low self-esteem, with behavioural and emotional issues and how we can support them.

At Water Hall primary school in Milton Keynes, we believe in the need to identify and address these issues early to be able to implement intervention strategies as soon as possible.

Related: How schools are dealing with the crisis in children’s mental health

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How schools are dealing with the crisis in children’s mental health

Bullying, problems at home or even the election Donald Trump – the world can be a stressful place for children. Fortunately, counselling services in schools are helping young people cope with such issues and more serious conditions

It could easily be a child’s bedroom. In the centre is a large mat, while a selection of dolls and soft toys line the walls. It is hard to believe that this nurture point in Plaistow, east London, aimed at helping children deal with their emotional problems, was once a school staff room.

Youngsters aged five to 11 can drop in three days a week and speak to a trained counsellor from the charity Place2Be. But as well as worries over friendships, bullying or problems at home, headteacher Paul Harris reveals that a growing number of children are suffering from anxiety as a result of Brexit and the election of Donald Trump.

Related: Five priorities for improving children’s mental health | Paul Burstow

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Mental health needs resources, not tinkering with the law | Letters

Letters: Replacing current mental health legislation may not be the best way to improve Britain’s mental wellbeing, readers suggest

The theme of this Mental Health Awareness Week (8–14 May), hosted by the Mental Health Foundation, is “Surviving or Thriving”. Rather than asking why so many people are living with mental health problems (Report, 8 May), we need to uncover why too few of us are thriving with good mental health.

It is crucial to remember that three children in every classroom will experience mental health problems by the time they are 16, and half of adult mental health problems start before the age of 14. While the Scottish government and society as a whole has begun to treat mental health and physical health equally, we still have a long way to go.

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Schools cutting mental health services to plug funding gaps, warn MPs

Services to support children’s wellbeing are ‘first thing to go’ when budgets are under pressure, parliamentary inquiry hears

Cash-strapped schools are cutting mental health services such as counsellors and pastoral provision as they try to cover funding gaps, two influential groups of MPs have said.

The health and education select committees joined forces for the inquiry, which called on the government to look at the impact of budget cuts on mental health services for children.

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What to do after graduation?

I’ve never found careers advice at university very useful, in fact I don’t remember paying them a visit at all during my undergraduate degree. I didn’t feel that I should’ve taken any guidance by someone else on what direction to take after graduating.

Unfortunately, many young students often find themselves confused as to what to pursue next once completing their undergraduate studies. This often perplexes me. When a student chooses a course to study for another 3 or more years of their life, and pay through the nose for it, there must be some inclination that they may enjoy the subject and perhaps want to pursue it further. The impression that I get most days when speaking to young people still at university is that miraculously over the course of the 3 years whilst study, they all of a sudden don’t feel that the course they went for is going to give them the job they’re after (assuming they know what job that is). This isn’t always a bad thing, but I’ve found it’s quite rife.

Personally, I knew I wanted to continue to add more qualifications under my belt. Everyone has a university degree these days, and of course when applying for professional posts, you need to stand out.

I pursued a Masters a degree, like most people do. Some people are crazy enough to go for a PhD. Pursuing a Masters isn’t for everyone though, and not everyone wants to do it straight after their undergraduate course. There aren’t any loans for it, and often young people want to work first, gather some money and if they’re still interested, go and enrol onto a suitable programme.

Once the students go through the a year-long graduate course they’re often a bit more clued up (sometimes) of where to go next. This is usually because they’ve pursued further learning into something they’re genuinely interested in and they’ve felt the pinch of paying for it too (or not). Students are also better equipped to present themselves at interviews now that they have a qualification that might give them the edge.

Aside from graduate degrees and further learning, its essential for students to take the initiative and get some work experience under the belt before heading out into the work place to look for paid work. It’s very competitive. This might be working on a voluntary basis for a lab in research, for example. It looks good on the CV and shows an eager student willing to learn and move forward.

It’s my opinion that when students are in university they often lose sight of the fact that one day they’re going to graduate and they will have to decide on the route they’re going to take. By preparing early for the end of the course and heading out into the work place you’re being clever about your future and taking proper responsibility – this is what employers want to see.