New Program Aims to Help High School Students Manage Stress

September 12, 2018 05:32 PM

A new program is helping students in Minnesota and Wisconsin manage their stress.

It's called Change To Chill and this year Allina Health selected nine high schools to participate.


One of those schools is Hopkins High School.

"It's really nice that we have this opportunity," said Nimo Gelle, a senior at Hopkins High School.

The web-based program aims to help students manage stress and find balance.

"It definitely prepared me a lot more for senior year," said Karina Lara Isiordia, a senior at Hopkins High School. 

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Allina Health explored this idea after receiving community feedback.

"In 2013 and 2016, the community brought forward some needs regarding mental health specifically with teens in our community," said Kaila Jordan, MPH, Allina Health Change to Chill coordinator. 

Allina Health officials say that the most recent Minnesota student survey shows there was an increase in student stress, anxiety and depression.

"Every day we're working with students who are telling us that they're stressed out about something," said Kelly Richey, Hopkins High School social worker. 

That's why schools like Hopkins High School are using simple exercises and themed days to help with all stress levels during Change to Chill Week. 

"We just kind of gave them feedback and gave them new ideas," Lara Isiordia said. 

These themed days include "in the moment Mondays" with framed pictures, "tech-free Tuesdays" and "thankful Thursdays."

"We just decided what would work best for high school students today," Gelle said. 

But chill week is just the introduction in Hopkins. Interns with the program are creating a designated "chill-zone" at the school and starting a club that meets once a week.

"I'm really excited for the rest of the year and what we have planned for that," said Alexandra Riley, a senior at Hopkins High School. 

The program will reach about 11,000 students this year, but both students and organizers hope it can touch many more.

"What we're hoping to do is help schools grow a grassroots effort around creating a culture of well-being around the school," Jordan said. 

Allina Health plans to partner with more schools during the next school year, but you don't need to be one of the selected schools to engage in the program. If you're interested in learning more, click here.


Brett Hoffland

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