Can Finland’s Radical School System Work in the U.S.?

The following interview is part of a cutting-edge series of video interviews called Parenting Today: Raising Strong, Resilient Kids being aired exclusively on Mad in America.

This series has as its aim educating parents about the current mental disorder paradigm as it relates to children. It also offers many useful tips about how to raise more resilient children and how to become a more skillful parent. In this series of more than thirty interviews, we share information about the diverse resources available to parents, including alternative ones.

We hope that you’ll follow this important series. Mental health advocate Heather Juergensen hosts the interviews, each of which introduces you to an interesting guest speaking on a subject of importance to parents. We hope that you enjoy this series, benefit from it, and decide to alert other parents to its existence!

Today’s guest is Debbie Rhea, PhD. Dr. Rhea is a full professor in Kinesiology and Associate Dean of Research and Health Sciences at the Harris College of Nursing and Health Sciences at Texas Christian University. She prepares K-12 physical education teachers and has spent the last several years developing a program called LiiNK — which stands for “Let’s inspire innovation ‘N kids.”

This program, influenced by Finland’s innovative school system, examines whole child development through the addition of unstructured, outdoor play breaks and character development in the schools daily. Rhea has received national media attention as a result of LiiNK from many different news outlets including The Today Show, the Washington Post, and NBC Nightly News. A prolific speaker, she has also published in numerous journals and received the Healthcare Hero award from the Dallas Business Journal and the Fort Worth Business Press for her research to create intrinsically motivated, active, healthy children. A native of Dallas, Rhea graduated from the Dallas public schools, University of Texas at Arlington, and the University of Houston. You can find out more about LIINK at her website.

Links of Interest:

The Liink Project

Coverage of Debbie’s program on Today

Parenting Today is produced by Heather Juergensen and Eric Maisel. To learn more about our individual work, please visit Eric Maisel at and Heather Juergensen at If you’re enjoying this series and find it useful, please tell other parents about it. To learn more about the series please visit and join our community!

Click here for more Parenting Today videos.


Mad in America hosts blogs by a diverse group of writers. These posts are designed to serve as a public forum for a discussion—broadly speaking—of psychiatry and its treatments. The opinions expressed are the writers’ own.


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