, Newburyport, MA


April 4, 2012

Combatting stress at an early age

o the editor:

I am a student at the University of New Hampshire as well as a resident of Byfield. For my Introduction to Public Health class, we are working on projects for the upcoming National Public Health Week (NPHW) April 2 to 6. There are five major themes that are discussed in NPHW — active living and healthy eating; alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs; reproductive and sexual health; preventing communicable disease; and mental health and emotional well-being — but for our group, we are specifically working on mental health and emotional well-being.

My group's main focus is on reducing stress in children and teenagers, because research has shown that stress that furthermore leads to anxiety and depression is most prevalent in these younger age groups, which is why we believe fighting stress at a younger age is the most efficient way to prevent anxiety and depression later on in life.

For our project we have been working with seventh-graders at the Oyster River Middle School in Durham, N.H., to help teach them what the major stressors in their lives are and mainly techniques they can use to reduce their stress. Some techniques we have taught them are some easy yoga and meditation activities that they can do at home, keeping a journal, as well as even having a stress ball with you for when you start feeling stressed out.

I am writing to you because, although we have seen change in our seventh-graders, it is a very small sample, and I believe with your help, we could reach out to a much larger population and teach people that anxiety and depression isn't something you have to live with for the rest of your life. Even if it's just showing people simple yoga or meditation techniques, I strongly believe it could make a huge difference!

People are just sitting home crying out for assistance and by just giving them a jump-start, I think we can point them in the right direction of an anxiety-free, depression-free life.

Dan Ford


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