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Posted on: September 14, 2018

Getting Stressed Out Students to 'Change to Chill'

High school can be a stress minefield. From sports, homework and activities... to the ever-present cellphones and social media, it's not a huge shock that teens are stressed.

“Unfortunately, it is a growing problem,” says Susan Nygaard, a Community Health Improvement Manager with Allina Health. 

Nygaard says Allina Health conducts community health assessments that consistently find stress as a top health concern for teens and their families. A few years ago, the company launched a website and created the Change to Chill campaign aimed at tackling the growing mental health crisis. For the 2018-2019 school year, Allina is partnering with nine select schools - including Coon Rapids High School - to turn the tide.

“I think a lot of it ties to electronics and just that we're so in to instant gratification, instant response, instant feedback,” says Nygaard.

“When people are going day-to-day they're not getting that feedback from maybe family, friends, other aspects, and so it stresses them out.”

At Allina Health offers a host of ways for teens to identify stressors and try to cope.  The nine partner schools also received $1,000 each to implement a “chill zone” where students can relax and gather at school.

With the help of student interns, dubbed “chill champions,” Allina Health also launched a “Chill Week.” Themed days focus on relaxation, mindfulness and gratitude.  The resident chill champion at Coon Rapids High School, Nick Terebayza, hopes it helps his classmates focus on the positive.

“Everybody gets stressed out with school, with friends, trying to fit everything in to a busy schedule,” he says.

The Coon Rapids senior wants his peers to remember they are not alone.

“Trying to realize that there's a lot of good things going on in your life, like, staying thankful for your friends and family and realizing that those people are there to support you.”

“Many people find themselves in that stress mode and they can't figure out how to get that back down,” says Nygaard.

“So the resources on Change to Chill help them understand how to get their body back into that relaxed state and just calm themselves back down and be able to deal with those situations more effectively.”

Jennifer Anderson reporting

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