Confronting well-being and mental health in the ‘therapeutic university’: implications for educators, students and the curriculum

Dhillon, S. (2024) Confronting well-being and mental health in the ‘therapeutic university’: implications for educators, students and the curriculum. Studies in Higher Education. pp. 1-12. ISSN 1470-174X

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This is a conceptual paper that examines the emergence of the ‘therapeutic university’ and considers its potential implications for policy and practice in Higher Education (HE). Concern over the wellbeing and mental health of university students both in the United Kingdom (UK) and internationally has recently intensified in media, academic and political spheres, to the extent that Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) are increasingly offering a diverse range of ad-hoc initiatives and practices based on the language and techniques of an equally diverse popular psychology. An emotionally oriented ‘therapeutic university’ (TU) is emerging from a complex intertwining of policies of social liberalism, specifically widening participation, and policies of economic liberalism which seek to cultivate the higher education (HE) sector as a competitive marketplace. While the TU might appear to offer the potential to alleviate mental health conditions, these therapeutic practices are frequently conceived as self-evidently good and rarely subjected to any critical scrutiny. This article explores three inter-related sets of concerns regarding the implications of the TU for educators, students and the curriculum and, through an exploratory account, illustrates these trends from our own lived experiences of working within a TU. Framed by insights from critical pedagogy, we critically analyse the current well-being agenda in the British HE sector and how this positions educators as ‘agents of well-being’ rather than ‘agents of criticality’.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: Published by Taylor & Francis in 2024. This is an author accepted manuscript of a published open access article available at Uploaded in accordance with the publisher's self-archiving policy.
Keywords: Student mental health, therapeutic university, critical pedagogy, agents of criticality, pedagogy of discomfort
Divisions: School of Social Science
Depositing User: Sunny Dhillon
Date Deposited: 25 Apr 2024 08:09
Last Modified: 25 Apr 2024 08:09

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