Adolescent Stress Can Be Reduced by 30-Minute Online ‘Mindset’ Training

AUSTIN, Texas – Many young people today suffer from stress-related anxiety and depressive symptoms. A new study by researchers at the University of Texas at Austin finds that a 30-minute online training on how to think about stress and adversity can reduce both short- and long-term mental health symptoms, providing a potential low-cost treatment to combat. a growing adolescent mental health crisis.

The study, published in Earthevaluate the impact of training students in grades 8-12 and college undergraduate students on “growth mindset”, which is the idea that challenges such as a hard class at school can be opportunities to learn and grow, and “stress- can be improving “. mindset, ”which is the idea that physiological stress responses such as sweaty palms and a race-hearted fuel can be optimal for performance.

“This intervention teaches adolescents two great ideas, which, when combined synergistically, can have a powerful effect,” said David Yeager, an associate professor of psychology who co-authored the study with Christopher Bryan, assistant professor of business, government and society at UT Austin’s. McCombs Business School. “For the first time, we figured out how to put these two ideas together in an intervention that helps adolescents deal with stress in the real world.”

Yeager and Bryan, along with Jared Murray, Assistant Professor of Information, Risk and Operations Management at UT McCombs, Jeremy Jamieson of the University of Rochester, James Gross of Stanford University and Danielle Krettek Cobb of the Google Empathy Lab, intervention tested during the course. of six double-blind, randomized experiments. The experiments were performed in laboratory and field settings with 4 291 participants. Students were able to give the 30 minute online training module to themselves, so no specialized or trained staff members were required to deliver it, which made the module highly scalable.

Many of the participants showed improved physiological responses to stress, such as reductions in the levels of the hormone cortisol, indicating whether people are coping well with a stressful experience. Participants who received the intervention also reported fewer mental health symptoms in high school and during the 2020 COVID-19 restrictions, suggesting that the reduction in stress may be generalized to diverse sets of stressors and situations. In one study, high school students who received the intervention were more likely to pass their courses a year later.

The researchers said the synergistic mindset intervention is a breakthrough because it contradicts the typical advice to overwhelmed young people, which emphasizes stress. reduction – disconnect from stressful demands.

“This advice could have the unfortunate effect of depriving young people of opportunities to acquire the valuable skills and knowledge they will need to compete in an increasingly technically demanding economy,” Bryan said. “The synergistic mindset intervention, on the other hand, helps young people thrive rather than be overwhelmed by intense education-related stress.”

The team notes that their intervention mostly applies to growth-promoting stressors, such as formal schooling or meeting a deadline in the workplace. They warn that this type of approach would not be appropriate to address trauma, abuse or structural inequalities. However, results suggest that this scalable intervention can provide young people with the resources and guidance they need to unleash their skills and creativity, even in the midst of intense stress, which can be critical to addressing humanity’s many challenges. .

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