Lessons should help youngsters cope with stress, Danish panel advises

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.

Lessons should help youngsters cope with stress, Danish panel advises
File photo: Anne Bæk/Ritzau Scanpix

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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‘Stop taking photos and let your children play,’ Danish stress panel urges

Children should be left to play in peace without photos being taken of them, says a Danish government panel on stress.

'Stop taking photos and let your children play,' Danish stress panel urges
The stress panel's recommendations were Published on Wednesday. Photo: Philip Davali/Ritzau Scanpix

The panel made the recommendation as one of 12 suggestions published Wednesday as part of its work to find ways of reducing stress.

Five other recommendations have also been released previously by the advisory board, including “life management” lessons at schools and colleges. Another recommendation suggested that authorities only send emails to the public during set time periods.

Re-evaluating the growing tendency to photograph everything that happens is another way to help put the brakes on and prevent stress, the panel said on Wednesday.

“Children have the right to play and go about their day in peace at daycare and in public with the constant photographic documentation of what they are doing,” the panel wrote.

That includes photographs taken at daycare centres or schools f post on digital platforms or to send to parents, according to the review.

The practice can distract from more important tasks and create unnecessary stress and concern, in the view of the panel

“The large number of shared photos can put parents who see them in a condition of stress about the child’s situation. Does the child look happy or sad? And why is the child not in more of the pictures?”, the recommendation asks.

Parents should also be able to accept that they cannot always know what their child is doing.

“Children should not be tracked, even though that may seem tempting and ‘caring’. Children also have the right to not be monitored by parents using diverse tracking apps,” the panel writes.

The panel was established last summer with the overall target of making 12 recommendations on how to reduce stress in Denmark.

The Danish Health Authority's (Sundhedsstyrelsen) most recent National Health Profile found that 1 in 4 people in Denmark have high stress levels.

Not all of the recommendations have received government support. Education minister Merete Riisager, in response to a recommendation to scrap Forældreintra, a parents’ digital communication platform linked to schools, said that she did not agree with that course of action.

Minister for health Ellen Trane Nørby welcomed the work of the panel, however.

“The recommendations make several suggestions for early prevention of stress, and these are ideal for taking forward in our ongoing work in this area,” Nørby said in a written comment.

READ ALSO: Lessons should help youngsters cope with stress, Danish panel advises