18 September 2019

Stress management in schools

Since the school year 2017 – 2018, Lycée Claudel has been offering the “Distress and Progress” program to 6th grade students. This program was created by the Centre for Studies on Human Stress (CESH), which seeks to improve the mental and physical health of children and adolescents by teaching them to reduce their responses to stressful everyday situations.

What is stress ?

Stress is a state of disruption caused by confrontation with a danger, a physical or psychological threat, a difficult environment. (stress of an exam, a love break-up, a competition,etc.)

The main stress factors

  • Performance pressure
  • Family problems
  • Relationships
  • Academic success
  • Life changes
  • And many others….

Children are not immune to stress, which leads to difficulties in concentration and learning, which can lead to academic failure.

To address the negative effects of stress, it is important that students understand the stress they are experiencing, how to recognize it and how to cope with it. By the time the student has discovered the ingredient(s) that contribute to their stress, 50% of the problem is already solved.

That is why Claudel High School offers the “Distress and Progress” program. Maxime Steenkerste, Sophie Cathelineau and Rabia Ben Ahmed, teachers from Claudel High School who have followed the training given by the Centre d’Études sur le Stress Humain, lead the programme.

Destress and Progress program

Distress and Progress first teaches young people to identify stress according to the following four situational determinants: low control (S), threatened personality (P), unpredictability (I) or novelty (N).

It is divided into 5 workshops, which ideally take place once a week and last about 40-50 minutes each. Each workshop includes a didactic part where young people acquire theoretical concepts that will support their learning. There is also a practical component in the form of role-playing and experimentation (e.g., doing pumps to observe your pulse, participating in a stressful group activity).

Finally, young people are encouraged to consolidate their learnings by doing homework between each workshop. A logbook is given to them for this purpose during the first workshop.

Description of the workshops

The first workshop presents an explanation of what stress is and the 4 elements (SPIN) that make it up.

The second workshop emphasizes that each individual interprets stressful events differently.

The next workshop presents the physical signs of stress and the concept of energy mobilization. Young people are then equipped with emotionally focused stress reduction strategies.

During the fourth workshop, the tools presented are problem-focused strategies.

The fifth workshop introduces the concepts of social support and social pressure.