Guidelines Issued to Parents and Schools to Alleviate Stress in Adolescents
Healthcare on Demand, a leading independent clinic providing mental and physical healthcare solutions, has issued guidelines for parents and schools on handling stress in children and adolescents.Timed to follow Mental Health Awareness Week and issued in the summer examination period, Healthcare on Demand has sought the collective advice of its mental health practitioners to offer advice to parents and schools on helping adolescents suffering from stress.
With stress at school identified as the main cause of depression amongst young people (YouGov survey: 2013), and Government statistics showing that half of people with lifelong mental health problems experience their first symptoms by the age of 14, Healthcare on Demand’s Founder and Clinic Director, Jane Nathan, says: “There are a plethora of factors in today’s society contributing to stress in young people: low self esteem, poor body image, social media and peer pressures, but in particular at this time of year we are witnessing a marked increase in patients seeking help with stress and anxiety due to exam pressure. Whilst we have a team of highly qualified practitioners to deal with this, it is important to recognize that there are techniques that parents, guardians and schools can implement to help support those affected with stress.”
- Understand that “All Behaviour has meaning” and be alert to any behaviours which appears to be “out of character” at home or school
- Aim to set aside at least 20-40 minutes a week to give your child uninterrupted, non-judgmental and undivided attention in a quiet place with no distractions. This will help them feel valued and cared for
- If your child is opening up to you, try not to interrupt, criticize, judge or make light of their concerns. It is what they are experiencing and is very real to them in the “here and now.”
- Try to pick up on what they are saying and how they must be feeling. Remember how you felt about life’s pressure and stresses at their age. Empathise with them to show that you can really understand
- Ask open-ended questions, starting with “Why ? When ? How ? Where? and try to avoid asking questions which only provoke a Yes /No response from your child.
- This will demonstrate to your child that you are hearing what they are saying to you. Mirror their thoughts and feelings back to them , out loud (eg. You are feeling …… Because you ……….).
SHARING / RELATING
- This can help your child feel that they are not alone and hearing your story will help “normalize” their anxiety and stress. Be careful, however, not to override or diminish the importance of their story.
- To begin with, your child may find it hard to verbalise what is going on for them. Encourage the writing of a daily diary to record thoughts and feelings, as well as art, drawing, writing poems or stories.
- Ask your child to tell you about their picture or story. Ask your child if they want to read you their story or poem and what it means to them.
- By talking about their worries and feelings, and devoting time to your child, this WILL help them.
Healthcare on Demand recently ran a dedicated Children’s Stress, Anxiety and Signs of OCD Workshop for teachers, therapists and parents at its Guildford clinic which was 400% oversubscribed. The proceeds of this event have generated a donation of £600 to OCD-UK.