Jonathan Owen

Is learning the best medicine?

A major study revealing how community learning can be used to alleviate mental health problems has the potential to transform the status of the sector. So why has the government buried the report? Jonathan Owen investigates the barriers preventing more joined-up working between healthcare and education

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Derek Underwood was struggling with depression and suffering side-effects from antidepressants when he decided to try a course on happiness run by his local adult education service. The retired engineer from Surbiton had been “in a downward spiral”. As a result of the medication, he was experiencing tremors in his hands, and he was relying on sleeping tablets to deal with insomnia.

The programme, titled “Practical ideas for happier living”, changed his life. “I found it very difficult to write down three positive things every day at the start of the course,” he recalls. “By the end of the ...

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