How to Help Teens and Young Adults Manage Stress
FROM CARRIE KUBACKI, HEALTH & WELL-BEING EDUCATOR, UW-MADISON DIVISION OF EXTENSION LANGLADE COUNTY
Growing up has never been easy. With school stress, peer pressure, technology and social media and physical and hormonal changes, many of us adults would never choose to go back and relive those years. However, think about the additional pressures our teens have been experiencing over the past year—an ongoing pandemic with anxiety over illness, changes to school structure and classes, social isolation, political and racial unrest, a resurgence of mass shootings, and the loss of school and personal activities and traditions. It is no wonder that our Generation Z individuals (teens ages 13-17 and adults ages 18-23) are facing the highest rates of stress, uncertainty and mental health challenges over any other age group during 2020 (American Psychological Association, 2020).
So, what can we do as adults, parents and caregivers and as a community to help and support our youth in managing stress and building resiliency for the future?
- Acknowledge that their challenges are real. We, as adults, may be at a stage where we know things are going to get better and can find hope. Teen and young adults are still developing these skills during very turbulent times.
- Help teens and young adults to identify how they are feeling in response to their stressors. Be open and non-judgmental in listening to them. Labeling feelings is the first step to healthy coping.
- Be careful to avoid giving advice. A teen or young adult may just need to express themselves to a caring person. They may also problem-solve their own solutions while they talk. Another way to approach youth is to ask, “Do you just want to talk about what’s going on, or are you looking for some help?”
- Remind yourself and your teens and young adults that we are living during difficult times. Encourage your youth to continue to do their best while giving them space and support when they need it.
- Seek professional help if needed. If you are concerned about your teen or young adult and other strategies have not helped, please reach out to your primary health care provider or mental health care provider. Mental health challenges are growing in youth, and we must take immediate actions if we are concerned about someone’s safety and well-being.
For more information about how to support youth, please contact Carrie Kubacki at (715) 627-6236 or [email protected]. Also, please consider registering your middle school or high school youth for the following coping and resiliency programs:
- Strengthen Your Calm: 1 ½ hour virtual program. Wednesday April 28 from 6:30 – 8:00 pm. Please find more information at: https://langlade.extension.wisc.edu.
- Learning to BREATHE: 8-session, in-person summer school program starting June 14. Please register at: