Lessons should help youngsters cope with stress, Danish panel advises

Lessons should help youngsters cope with stress, Danish panel advises
File photo: Anne Bæk/Ritzau Scanpix
Lessons on how to cope with life’s ups and downs should be added to regular maths, science and language classes, a government panel on stress has said.

The panel recommends that “life management” should be a part of the curriculum at schools and colleges in Denmark, newspaper Politiken reports.

Such lessons would encompass critical thinking in relation to unrealistic images of life constantly met by young people on social media and other platforms. Understanding the significance of personal relationships would be another area to be covered.

“Currently, many young people feel the need to perform better than ever before, and outside influences play a huge role. Many see themselves through the eyes of others and would benefit from building a healthy and balanced view of life,” sociologist and author Anette Prehn, who heads the government panel on stress, said to Politiken.

“Society has an understanding of the importance of physical exercise, but has not realised that physical and mental health are two sides of the same coin in life,” Prehn said.

The stress panel leader noted recent health figures published in the Danish Health Authority’s (Sundhedsstyrelsen) National Health Profile, which showed that 41 percent of women between the ages of 16 and 24 feel stressed.

“It is our assessment in the stress panel that we as a society can see that children and young people need help to manage their lives in this era,” Prehn said.

“We do not need to make them jump in at the deep end and hope they cope,” she told Politiken.

The recommendations made by the panel have drawn inspiration from neighbouring Norway, where a new subject called ‘People’s health and life management’ (‘Folkehelse og livsmestring’) will be introduced from next year. Lessons will cover how to set boundaries and respect others.

Prehn and the panel’s eight other experts were given their roles by the government last summer. The exact content of life management lessons should be decided by educational experts, according to the panel.

School students’ representative organisation Danske Skoleelever reacted positively to the recommendations made by the stress panel.

“But I am looking forward to seeing how it will take shape, because it is not so specific,” the organisation’s chairperson Sarah Gruszow Bærentzen said.

“But I can imagine that it would take part of class time, which I think would be healthy,” Bærentzen told Ritzau.

The panel’s overall goal is to make 12 recommendations on how to reduce stress in Denmark.

READ ALSO: Stress: one in ten people at work in Denmark on medication, says report

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