Teen Stress in our Schools
Teen Stress in our Schools is an article written by a professor and PhD student that have worked to create the StressOFF Strategies program. This program features a 45-minute session that introduces middle and high school students to the concepts of recognizing stress and utilizing coping skills to minimize its effects.
The program features four key components: psychoeducation, decreasing stigma, coping skills, and follow-up. Psychoeducation seeks to teach students about stress and how to recognize it within themselves. The program seeks to decrease stigma around mental health by encouraging discussion and providing examples of celebrities that have talked about stress. The body of the program revolves around presenting three different types of coping skills: cognitive, physiological, and behavioural strategies. Lastly, a pamphlet and website accompany the program for future learning.
It is important that the themes of stress and coping strategies are being addressed with a large emphasis in every school, starting at a young age. Every students experiences stress, perhaps even bouts of depression, and therefore it is important that students know what to do in these situations. In my opinion, while it might sounds like a great idea, I do not believe that coping skills can be adequately taught in 45-minutes. Yes, coping skills can be introduced. However, these strategies are behaviours that must be practiced and personally used, especially since coping methods vary from person to person.
It is important to have a plan in place within the school if a student feels overly stressed and overwhelmed. This can include telling students how to appropriate communicate their feelings to the correct adults in the school, such as the teacher, guidance counselor, chaplain, or principal. It could also be beneficial to implement mandatory meetings for students with their guidance counselor to check in with academic, family, peer, and personal struggles. This would provide students with an ongoing opportunity to share, discuss, and learn how to deal with the issues they are facing in their lives.
It is also important to look at the root causes of their stress. What is it about academics that are making students experience stress? Is it the unrealistic expectations place on their performance by their parents? Is the student struggling with the subject matter because they have an unrecognized learning disability? Or perhaps the student simply does not have proper time management skills, thus forcing them to feel the time crunch of attempting to finish work at the very last minute. Once we understand what is causing the stress, then we are able to adopt a proactive approach to stress, which is the best form of coping skill.
Here is an insightful infographic about stress among teenagers: