In a recent survey conducted by KidsMatter and the ParentsMatterToo initiative, 70% of Naperville teens surveyed say they feel stressed and 50% of those say they rarely or never talk about the stress they feel with someone else. This result is something IdaLynn Wenhold and members of the Collaborative Youth Team find alarming.
The cause of youth stress in Naperville was the focus of the 2018 State of the Kids report which is based on the results of an October 2017 survey taken by 4,700 7th and 10th-grade students in Naperville School District 203 and Indian Prairie School District 204.
Dr. Patricia Schacht, an associate professor at North Central College, developed the survey and tabulated the results. While both she and IdaLynn noted that stress is normal and inevitable, the concern lies when the stress becomes chronic and students don’t talk about it or know how to access resources to help them deal with it.
Most Naperville students say their stress comes from three main areas: school, competition and peers. And while the incidence of 7th graders turning to drugs and alcohol to cope with stress is only 1%, the numbers of high school students is higher. Wenhold said Naperville’s figures are close to a 2016 national study from the Partnership for a Drug-Free Kids which shows 11 percent of teens said they felt compelled to drink alcohol or use drugs to cope with stress and anxiety.
In response to these findings, one of the actions the Collaborative Youth Team is taking is to partner with the national Crisis Text Line to give everyone with a cellphone a discreet way to receive free counseling. Trained counselors from Crisis Text Line are available 24/7 to serve anyone experiencing depression, anxiety, eating disorders, bullying, suicidal thoughts or other painful emotions. Instead of calling, individuals can text “REACH” to 741741 to connect with one of more than 3,000 crisis counselors who operate under strict protocols for providing safe and confidential care to each user.
For more information about the survey and to access resources, visit the ParentMatterToo website: https://parentsmattertoo.org/
IdaLynn Wenhold, Executive Director, KidsMatter
Dr. Patricia Schacht, Associate Professor, North Central College