Helping Teens Improve Mental Health by Finding Happiness
Students and educators alike have been facing increased hardship this school year, navigating hybrid and remote learning environments while balancing schoolwork and other priorities. While individuals of all ages struggle with stress, research shows that teenagers are experiencing more anxiety than other age groups due to the pandemic. Even before COVID-19, many teens experienced difficulty coping with academic stress, which is now compounded by missing a year of critical developmental socialization. As a result, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 63% of young adults have reported feelings of anxiety and depression in the wake of COVID-19. May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and this year the social-emotional wellness of America’s youth has taken on even more importance.
Hoping to reach those searching for guidance and needing a place to start, people across the country are sharing resources promoting self-care and wellness tips. In our classrooms, many educators are looking to provide support to their students as children and teens urgently seek resources to better cope with and understand their emotions. Fortunately, there are proven programs and resources available to improve lifelong social and emotional well-being. One noteworthy nationwide initiative called “Life’s Good: Experience Happiness” promotes social-emotional wellness and mental health education in youth. This science-based program is built on six teachable skills that can help individuals overcome adversity and build emotional resilience, according to John I. Taylor, senior vice president at LG USA, the lead sponsor of Experience Happiness. Developed by researchers at The University of California, Berkeley, the skills are mindfulness, human connection, positive outlook, purpose, generosity, and gratitude. “To help bring these life-changing skills to America’s youth, we worked with leading nonprofits and educators,” says Taylor. “And we’re pleased to see positive results.
Whether they experience social-emotional learning at school or at home, students who practice happiness skills are better able to cope with stress and demonstrate better behavior towards their work, their peers and their teachers.”The Experience Happiness program is available through digital, downloadable resources that help individuals develop tools for better lifelong wellness. Its social impact partners — Be Strong, Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL), Discovery Education, Inner Explorer, and The Greater Good Science Center — and LG recognize the importance and urgency of delivering these resources.
In fact, thanks to outstanding educators championing social-emotional learning, more than 4 million students across the country have already been taught these lifelong skills.”In this unprecedented school year, it’s essential to connect communities to resources that support all students in learning and practicing the necessary skills to build happiness in any learning environment,” says Beth Meyer, Vice President of Corporate & Community Partnerships at Discovery Education. “Helping students cultivate self-confidence, manage stress, and maintain their well-being so they can thrive has never been more critical.”On the front lines in today’s youth mental health crisis are educators who embrace social-emotional learning as a vital part of their curriculum.
In honor of their unparalleled impact in providing mental health tools to students, 50 “Superhero Teachers” across the United States were recognized this spring for their dedication to teaching the six sustainable happiness skills and going above and beyond to support their students especially during these challenging times.” Teachers across the country are championing the use of practices such as mindfulness in the classroom, which remains instrumental in supporting students’ ongoing mental health and wellbeing,” adds Laura Bakosh, Ph.D., Co-Founder of Inner Explorer. “The LG Experience Happiness program will continue to be pivotal in helping reach more youth and educators with these skills.”Looking ahead, these students will have the tools to manage and improve their emotions as they grow into responsible, motivated, self-aware, and (of course) happier adults.