Primer #1 
Stress & Anxiety Overview

TIME: 9 Minutes
MATERIALS NEEDED: Post-it Note, Writing Utensil for Students; Optional Poster Board for Teacher
OBJECTIVES: 
  • Students will recognize that we all feel stress and anxiety to some degree throughout our lives; they are not alone, and their teachers want to help.
  • Teachers will explicitly acknowledge the problem of stress and anxiety, and they will actively be a support resource for their students through the ASSET programming in their classrooms.

Start Featuring Today’s Primer
  • ASSET Logo
  • Today’s Lesson -- Primer #1: Stress and Anxiety Overview
  • Get Out: Writing Utensil

Story Share (1 min.) 
  • Teacher Share: Teacher shares a story of when he/ she experienced stress or anxiety in high school or college.

Stop and Jot (1 min.) 
  • Teacher Prep: Distribute one post-it note to each student.
  • Teacher Framing: “Please take one minute to write your answer to this question on a post-it note. No one will be required to share out, and your response will not be collected.”
    • Stop and Jot Question: Do you currently or have you ever struggled with stress and/ or anxiety? If yes, explain what triggers or has triggered this. 

Discussion (3 min.) 
  • Teacher Framing: “Right now, we are going to grapple with some complex statistics. While listening, please think about 1) how these statistics relate to you, and 2) why you think this is the reality for American teenagers.” Ask for a volunteer to read the three statistics on the presentation.
    • Statistics: 
  • The American College Health Association found a significant increase in students reporting “overwhelming anxiety” from 50% in 2011 to 62% in 2016. Link: Why Are More Teenagers Than Ever Suffering From Severe Anxiety? 
  • Nearly one in three teenagers will experience anxiety by the age of 18. Link: Anxiety and Depression in Adolescence 
  • In a case study conducted by the Denver Public Schools Imaginarium Innovation Lab, 85% of students reported experiencing stress and/ or anxiety caused by school on a daily basis. Over 90% reported that their school does not help them cope. Link: ASSET: Mitigating Anxiety In The Present, Building Resilience For The Future
  • Teacher Framing: Facilitate a discussion with these questions: “How do these statistics relate to you? Why is this the reality for American teenagers? Why is anxiety getting worse?”
    • Note: We are not looking for correct answers. This is an opportunity for students to share their ideas and for teachers to gain an understanding of their students’ realities.

What Are We Doing About It? (1 min.) 
  • Teacher Framing: “Rising stress and anxiety levels among teenagers is clearly a problem in our country, but what are we doing about it? Raise your hand if you have ever had a teacher discuss this topic with you. Raise your hand if you have ever talked about stress with a friend. Raise your hand if you have ever had a teacher share a tool you could use to deal with stress or anxiety. Raise your hand if you have ever had a friend share a tool you could use to cope with stress. Raise your hand if you know of any coping strategies for stress or anxiety.”
  • Optional Teacher Share: Share a personal story about how your teachers shared or didn’t share coping strategies with you when you were in school.
    • Example: “I didn’t receive help from my teachers to cope with stress, and I didn’t want my students to experience that same lack of resources. As a community, we’re coming together to actively learn about our brains and build a ‘toolbox’ of tools we can use to combat stress for the rest of our lives.” 

Coping Tools (2 min.) 
  • Teacher Framing: “What do you do, if anything, to cope with stress or anxiety?”
    • Note: You can have students simply share aloud, or you can have a student record the coping strategies shared on a poster. One of side of the poster could list these student-generated coping tools, and the other side could list the ASSET tools (a tool could be added after each ASSET session to help the names of the various tools stick).
    • Note: Reinforce the importance of exercise. 
      • Optional Teacher Framing: “We will not be engaging in exercise as a tool, but it’s important to know that it is a great tool to use!”

Closure (1 min.) 
  • Teacher Framing: “We all feel stress and anxiety to some degree throughout our lives; you are not alone, and I want to help. For 5-10 minutes a week, we are going to participate in a program called ASSET Education. Its goal is to expose students to a variety of coping tools for stress and anxiety that they can use inside and outside of the classroom. Before we experience these tools, we are going to deepen our understanding of how our brains works. Next ASSET session, we will learn about how stress manifests in your brain and body.”

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