APA in the classroom bolsters student mental health
When seventh-grade health teacher Ben Leven invited
psychologist Mary Alvord, PhD, to talk to his Buffalo Grove,
Illinois, middle school students about stress, Alvord didn’t
have to leave her Rockville, Maryland, office. Alvord was
broadcast into the classroom with the help of “Let’s Talk
about Mental Health,” a joint project with Microsoft and
Skype in the Classroom to bring psychology lessons into the
classroom via Skype.
More than 100 APA members have volunteered as
presenters for the program, through which psychologists
and teachers work together to plan 50-minute presentations
about anger and depression, resilience or anxiety, says
Rhea K. Farberman, APA’s executive director for Public
and Member Communications. “The program will help
For their class, Leven and Alvord agreed to teach the
students different ways to cope with the intense stress of
school, such as visualization and muscle relaxation. By
teaching younger children about techniques for coping
with stress, Alvord says, psychologists and teachers can help
prevent unhealthy coping behaviors later in the students’
As part of the lesson, Alvord asked students to discuss
stressors and categorize them as little, medium or large.
She then had one student hold books that represented each
stressor to demonstrate how stress builds. Next the students
listed healthy methods to cope with stress, and after each
one was named a book was removed from the pile.
The kids responded well to the program and gave great
feedback about Alvord, Leven says. As students walked out,
they told him the lesson was “cool” and that they learned
new ways of handling stress. “The kids loved it,” Leven says.
— HEATHER MONGILIO
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