School runs parenting course to reduce risk of anxiety and depression among pupils

The Sunday Times, 24.04.16, leading independent HMC school Berkhamsted, has launched parenting classes with charity Supporting Links in an effort to reduce the risk of anxiety and depression among its pupils.

Such problems, along with eating disorders and self-harm, are often caused by problems at home.

Jeanette Hennigan, head of counselling at the private school, whose fees are about £18,000 a year, said 6% of Berkhamsted’s 1,800 pupils used the counselling service. “Young people can find it hard when step-parents come in,” she said. “Most of the children we see are feeling anxiety caused perhaps by a family break-up, or they are going through the teenage years and finding it tough. The key is communication.”

The school has drafted in the charity Supporting Links to run six-week courses for parents of teenagers and children of prep school age, and runs classes for fathers.

Vicky Mackey and her husband Richard attended a class not because they are divorcing but to find a joint approach to parenting their children, 8 and 12, before they hit their teens.
Mackey, a teacher, said she had seen children in class struggle to cope with their parents’ divorce. “There would be huge advantages for parents who have split up in attending classes like these,” she said.

Gary Kibble attended the fathers’ course. “I was on the wrong side of the line when it came to . . . wrapping my daughter [11] in cotton wool. I have tried to let her learn through her own mistakes since going on the course,” he said.

The school is also testing online counselling that could be available in the evenings and even at weekends.

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