To the Editor:
The Stanford Study referenced in the Town Topics two weeks ago [“PHS Student Survey Reports High Stress,” April 26, page one] highlighted high numbers of PHS students who reported feeling stressed by schoolwork and who suffer from multiple physical symptoms associated with stress and anxiety. At Trinity Counseling Service, we receive calls about children and adolescents from all of our community’s schools experiencing these same symptoms. And I know from colleagues that communities all over the country are dealing with similar issues. People often ask: what more can we do to help?
Last Sunday at Communiversity, the Junior Board of Trinity Counseling Service set up a game of “Giant Jenga.” Potential stressors like “school,” “parents,” “work,” and “relationships,” were written on the Jenga blocks that people stacked on top of each other to create a giant tower. Blocks were pulled out, the tower balanced, until it eventually collapsed, and was rebuilt, again and again, by groups (children, adolescents, and adults) throughout the day. The metaphor, of course, was that stressors pile up, and we balance them, yet they can also weigh us down until we fall. But importantly, we can reinforce, rebuild, and move forward. People loved the game, and had fun playing together. I think that’s one thing we as a community need to do more of: find creative and fun ways to connect with our families, friends, and as a community. Because healthy connections build resilience — within ourselves, our families, and our communities.
The Stanford study and the Topics article were reminders of the importance of acknowledging challenges faced by members of our community. Trinity Counseling Service is here as a resource, working together with other community agencies and faith-based organizations. Research shows that at the most basic level, people want to feel connected, listened to, and supported, and it’s important to remember that we have many places to turn to in this community for support.
I think about and discuss issues related to mental health every day. The Stanford Study provides an opportunity to our entire community to think about these important topics together. I hope you will join me in recognizing the importance of mental health by continuing to talk about this study, and about mental health in general, with friends, family, and our community — perhaps over dinner or a game of Jenga.
Whitney B. Ross, EdM, PhD
Executive Director, Trinity
Counseling Service, Stockton Street