Researchers in Australia assigned more than 1,000 young teenagers to one of two classes: either a typical middle-school health class or one that taught a version of a mental-health treatment called dialectical behavior therapy, or DBT. After eight weeks, the researchers planned to measure whether the DBT teens’ mental health had improved.
The therapy was based on strong science: DBT incorporates some classic techniques from therapy, such as cognitive reappraisal, or reframing negative events in a more positive way, and it also includes more avant-garde techniques such as mindfulness, the practice of being in the present moment. Both techniques have been proven to alleviate psychological struggles.
The author and editors forgot to capitalize “Science”!
This special DBT-for-teens program also covered a range of both mental-health coping strategies and life skills—which are, again, correlated with health and happiness. One week, students were instructed to pay attention to things they wouldn’t typically notice, such as a sunset. Another, they were told to sleep more, eat right, and exercise. They were taught to accept unpleasant things they couldn’t change, and also how to distract themselves from negative emotions and ask for things they need. “We really tried to put the focus on, how can you apply some of this stuff to things that are happening in your everyday lives already?” Lauren Harvey, a psychologist at the University of Sydney and the lead author of the study, told me.
But what happened was not what Harvey and her co-authors predicted. The therapy seemed to make the kids worse. Immediately after the intervention, the therapy group had worse relationships with their parents and increases in depression and anxiety. They were also less emotionally regulated and had less awareness of their emotions, and they reported a lower quality of life, compared with the control group.
Most of these negative effects dissipated after a few months, but six months later, the therapy group was still reporting poorer relationships with their parents.
Last year, a study of thousands of British kids who were put through a mindfulness program found that, in the end, they had the same depression and well-being outcomes as the control group. A cognitive-behavioral-therapy program for teens had similarly disappointing results—it proved no better than regular classwork.
- from America’s paragon of mental fitness… “Remarks by President Biden on Expanding Access to Mental Health Care” (whitehouse.gov): “… we can all agree mental health care is healthcare. It is healthcare. It’s essential to people’s wellbeing … Nearly 70 percent of our kids who seek me- — care for mental health or addiction cannot get it. … Insurers still make it far too difficult to get mental health care. … Our plans would require health insurance plans to identify the gaps in the mental health care that they provide.”
- looking at another boon to health, according to #Science and governors in California and Massachusetts who deemed it “essential” … “Marijuana use raises risk of heart attack, heart failure and stroke, studies say” (CNN)