Focus Group Aims to Combat Stress at School

Sarah Sabawi, Staff Writer

Focus Group Aims to Combat Stress at School

French teacher Laurel Garceau and guidance counselor Joyce Davis have organized a focus group to train teachers on handling mental health issues, such as stress and anxiety, due to increases in adolescent mental health problems among students.

Anxiety is the most common mental disorder among adolescents. According to Child Mind, a nonprofit that helps children and teens with mental health issues, nearly one in three people will meet the criteria for anxiety by the age of 18. Females are nearly twice as likely to be affected as males.

Anxiety and depression are prevalent in the district, with 26 percent of freshmen describing chronic feelings of sadness and hopelessness. Davis said that the students have not found a way to relieve this stress and anxiety at school.

“Students are extremely anxious, and feel stressed,” she said. “They don’t seem to have developed coping mechanisms for those things.”

Garceau noted that the drive to succeed in college may be behind increased stress.

“It is probably due to the increased demand students put on themselves

,” she said. “We support the extra rigor and drive for college, but students need to also take care of themselves.”

These groups focus on educating staff about healthy ways to cope with anxiety, such as meditation, breathing, and exercises.

“We’re going to be focusing on ourselves, and doing things that would be healthy, and being able to do those things with students,” Davis said.

Teachers will demonstrate stress-relief strategies through advisory, and instruct their students how to do the same. Over the past month, advisory classes have emphasized best practices to help students get more sleep, as well as meditation and breathing techniques.

These were met with mixed results, as students reported seeing scattered participation in their advisories.

Garceau admitted to the novelty of a stress relief program at school.

“This is new to all of us and we are figuring things out,” said Garceau.

Some students want to give the new program a chance. Junior Leo Golden has dealt with anxiety and has learned some techniques that work with him. He says this will help others in the same situation

“For someone who doesn’t know, I feel like it would helpful,” he said.