Uncertainty, a loss of routine and a new normal caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has brought along excessive stress in our youth. Combatting this – Stress Lessons.
Introduced to high school students across the Wellington Catholic District School Board, The Stress Lessons: Tools for Resiliency kit has supported our students in learning how to differentiate between positive coping strategies from ineffective or counterproductive responses to stress.
“It has taught our students that in situations where we do have control, they can productively advocate, problem solve or create boundaries,” said Sony Brar, Mental Health Lead and Manager of Student Mental Health Services with Wellington Catholic DSB. “In situations where they do not have control, it has taught our students ways in which they can tolerate the stress, utilize healthy coping and reach out for support.”
The evidence-based resource from Strong Minds, Strong Kids has psychologically-sound strategies and tools that educators can use to teach their students about stress and coping. It provides teens and educators with an opportunity to promote well-being, dialogue, and learning, that is directly tied to curriculum. The learning activities are flexible and can be used to benefit the whole school, individual classrooms, or a small group of students. They can also be used by parents, and one-on-one with individual students.
Specifically, these lessons teach students to recognize the signs and symptoms of stress, understand what stress feels like, implement coping and problem-solving strategies, and foster an increased sense of well-being.
Michael Malak, a social worker within Wellington Catholic DSB, has utilized the Stress Lesson’s resource at Our Lady of Lourdes. Adding a unique twist by administering these lessons virtually through a show platform that they fondly named 54 OLOL – 54, after the address that the school resides at, and OLOL as the abbreviation of Our Lady of Lourdes.
“Students are offered the opportunity to think, reflect and make connections in how to both manage and be the best version of themselves,” explained Malak. “Through 54 OLOL students also have fun, feel good, know they can manage anything and that our world will get through COVID-19.”
54 OLOL came from the concept that this project is to support and empower everyone in ‘the house’. Beyond the name, the message of togetherness has been emulated through the contributions of the many students who not only participated as recipients of the message, but also those who recorded and shared their experiences and created digital artwork.
“We wanted to embrace the student voice and allow for them to share how they manage” Malak said. “The show allowed for the student voice to be celebrated.”
Malak encourages families to implement these strategies in the home as well, and has said he can make resources available as requested.
“From time to time have discussions and share on how family members have handled their stress and how was the outcome, what went well, what did not go well and what can you learn from that experience,” he explained. “Create a menu for well-being, stress reduction, stress management just like you create a menu for your daily or weekly meals.”
With the engagement and positive results that this kit has had in the high schools, it is Brar’s hope that it will be used in grades 7 and 8 in the new year.
“This program has been an excellent resource that has been used in all of our high schools to help students develop resiliency- the ability to not just survive but thrive in our exciting, and at times, stress-filled world,” said Brar.
For more information and resources available for the wellbeing of youth please visit https://jack.org/covid .