Are students a therapists' gravy train?

November 8, 1996

Lecturers Laura Spira and Mark Griffiths argue that students face unprecedented stresses and financial hardship today. Both disparage Jennie Bristow's suggestion that if she can handle student life, there is no reason why other students should not be able to do so. They are equally outraged by Bristow's dismissal of student counselling services.

I personally cannot remember a golden age when students did not live on overdrafts, work during termtime to make ends meet and did not get stressed out by exams.

Allowing that some students may face more hardship now - why should we not expect them to deal with it? Why should they (any more than their predecessors) fall apart without the help of a student counsellor?

Of course, the expectation that people cannot cope with demanding situations or difficult decisions themselves, without "expert" counselling, is not limited to academia. It is part of a wider social trend that is fuelling a very long counselling and therapy gravy train.

Students should be going to university to work hard, play hard and take some hard knocks if necessary, in order for them to toughen up and grow up. The last thing they need is perpetual guardianship from parents, student counsellors - and lecturers, who should know better.

Jennifer Cunningham Community paediatrician and medical student tutor Dowanhill Street, Glasgow.

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