VALPARAISO | A Positive Approach to Teen Health will spotlight stress’s impact on teens as well as how adults can help them cope at its 10th annual seminar, “American Teens in Crisis: Teens Under Stress.”
Parents, community members, youth workers, educators and counselors are invited to attend the event from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. April 15 at Strongbow Inn, 2405 U.S. 30. The conference fee is $80 and registration can be completed online at www.pathblazer.org/events/ATIC2014/.
Breakout sessions will focus on topics from coping skills and depression to substance abuse and breaking stereotypes.
“I’m not sure that adults fully understand or appreciate the pressure and stress that our youth are facing today,” PATH Executive Director Donna Golob said. “I would hope that throughout this day, parents and community members would have several ‘Wow, I didn't realize’ moments, and that those moments will encourage and equip parents and community members to take action.
“I truly feel that we all desire to be good parents - to be supportive to youth around us - but I sometimes think we just don’t know what’s going on enough to get involved or we don’t feel what we say or do could make a difference. Together, we can make a really positive difference in the lives of youth, and in turn in our community. At the end of the day, we would hope that you walk away feeling equipped and encouraged to make that difference.”
Golob said stress can lead to depression, substance abuse or even suicide in some teens.
“Some students become depressed or withdrawn while others begin to act out. For others, they may turn to drugs or alcohol or they may use self-harm (cutting) as a coping skill,” Golob said. “The point is, stress is very real in the lives of our youth, and we need to help them find healthy ways to deal with that stress. It would be great if we could just alleviate the stress itself, but that’s not realistic.”
She said school and family are the main triggers for teen stress.
“The number one stress factor for teens, reported by teens, is school: keeping the grades up, studying for tests, peer pressure, fitting in and so on. Family stress is the second most common response by teens to what is stressing them out: divorce, arguing, issues with siblings, finances,” she said. “We can’t remove all of these things from the life of our teens, but we can help them to handle these and other stressful things in their lives.”
The conference aims to help participants – especially parents - be better guides for teens.
“While parents often feel that their opinions don’t matter or that their teens don’t want them involved in their lives, research continues to show that exactly the opposite is true. An overwhelming majority of teens have reported that they want to know what their parents think about life issues, relationships and more importantly they want parents to be their source of information,” Golob said. “Our specific research shows that when a student knows how a parent feels regarding high-risk behaviors, it has a direct impact on that student’s attitudes and behaviors. Parents it matters what you think - talk to your teens!”
For more information on PATH, visit www.pathblazer.org or call (219) 548-8783.