Families with a child completing elementary school this year are now preparing their registration for high school, a transition that is often stressful for children. A new program has demonstrated that it is possible to significantly reduce stress in some of these children thanks to a new educational tool designed under the leadership of Sonia Lupien, Director of the Centre for Studies on Human Stress (CSHS) and professor at the University of Montreal.
A study published in February in Neuroscience confirms the benefits of the DeStress for Success Program among youth completing their first year of high school. "In 2000, our team showed that during the transition from elementary to secondary school, many young people produce high levels of stress hormones. Following this discovery, we wanted to test whether an educational program based on our current knowledge of stress would decrease the level of stress hormones and depressive symptoms in teenagers and help facilitate this transition," said Sonia Lupien, lead author of the study.
The DeStress for Success Program was presented to 504 students aged 11 to 13 years from two private schools in the Montreal area. Students from one school were exposed to the program, while those of the other school served as the control group. Before starting the project, cortisol levels (the stress hormone) in saliva and depressive symptoms were measured to determine whether adolescents beginning secondary school with specific depressive symptoms responded differently to the program. Markers were also measured during and after the program as well as three months following participation in the project to validate whether improvement was maintained.