Schools can help address and recognize adolescent stress before the student is referred for help and/or before they become a problem in class.

Human beings rely on social influences to help construct their opinions and beliefs. The influence of family, the media, and peers becomes crucial to the period of adolescence when developing an identity is vital to guiding future beliefs and behaviors. The stress that is associated with these factors can be intense and in some cases, the adolescent may engage in detrimental behavior. The media, family, and peers are not only to blame. Unfortunately, in the educational field, stress management skills are not a top priority.

Common Depressors

Today’s people feel the stress of everything from family problems and the economy to poor grades. It’s hard not to be worried when dad loses his job or the family can’t afford to send them to college. There are a number of other risk factors for childhood obesity as well.

  • The use of drugs and/or alcohol
  • Aggressive behavior
  • Lack of career goals
  • Depression
  • Financial problems
  • Not fitting in
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Hormonal changes
  • Divorce and other family changes
  • Natural disasters

What are Schools Doing?

Schools are doing a great job addressing the most prominent issues such as substance abuse and school violence. However, the underlying factors to these and other potentially harmful behaviors are being overlooked. Students struggling academically, for instance, may be struggling as a result of stress in their life. Instead of dealing with the problem, avoidance becomes the coping strategy and the adolescent continues to use this strategy whenever stress arises. Taking into account the advantages and disadvantages of online education, sometimes the stress of schoolwork and tests in addition to the other stressful incidents in his/her life is too much to handle. Consequently, the student decides to drop out of school.

The problem is that schools are addressing these issues only when the student becomes a problem in class or by referral. The majority of teens are not going to willingly talk to a counselor about the stress in their lives. They have not yet developed effective coping skills and are afraid to ask for help. Due to this lack of education related to stress management, some more serious consequences can result including eating disorders, school violence, and suicide.

Steps for Educators to Help Adolescent’s Manage Their Stress

The first step toward educating youth would be to implement a prevention program. Informing students that stress is normal and offering effective coping strategies is an important part of the learning process. Also, encouraging the development of one’s own identity is monumental. This allows the adolescent to decipher his/her own coping techniques.

After the prevention program, some of the students that are consumed by stress may come forward to ask for more guidance. Even for those not currently experiencing stress, the program may be used as an effective tool for the future.

The next step is intervention services. Although intervention is already in effect in the school system, the focus is on the social issue rather than the individual’s underlying stress. Self-esteem and recognition of one’s own identity become a key element to an adolescent’s healthy development. Recognition and acceptance of identity, despite social influences, also contribute to more effective stress management skills.

Everyone experiences stress and copes in different ways. However, it is during adolescence when teens really encounter its impact on their thoughts and behaviors. Not every adolescent that experiences stress is going to engage in harmful or destructive behavior, but that does not indicate that they know how to effectively deal with the stress that is presented to them through their social connections.