We the Tune Into Life Teen Group – have been deeply concerned about mental health and wellness among our peers. For the past year, this group of young people has met to come up with ideas of what we can do to make changes in our community to reduce stress and decrease suicide in teens. We reviewed the 2016 YRBS data and discussed what we can do about the daunting results: eg . We held a series of talk back groups to gain insights and input from other young people. We talked to more than 80 young people about their concerns. The results of those conversations are attached as a list of concerns.
Tune Into Life Youth Meeting Summary
Since September 2018 the TIL Teens have talked with more than 80 LTISD 7th-12th graders to discuss the results of the survey conducted in 2017 and 2018 that raised concerns about the anxiety and stress levels among students in LTISD. We’ve had wide ranging discussions and gotten ideas from kids like us about what would reduce stress and anxiety in kids here in Lakeway.
Very often the topics were specific concerns about changes in district policies:
- Fears about the new mandatory drug testing for all UIL participants and students with parking passes.
- Confusion about the role and purpose of genius hour
- The limitation of passes to skip exams
- Changes/Shortages in parking on campus
Some concerns were structural:
- Huge amounts of “mindless ungraded homework” that doesn’t enhance learning
- Lack of coordination to ensure students aren’t heavily burdened by both extracurricular activities and homework on the same nights
- All students need skills to address their own and their friend’s anxiety – maybe take the health class that was dropped and replace it with a meaningful life skills class that kids help design
- Teachers are stressed out and frustrated having to teach to test as well
- Need for spaces in school to go to escape the stress
- Need counselors that manage more than schedule changes
- Kids and parents need additional support understanding how high school works, where to go for what
And finally some concerns were bigger than Lakeway but are a constant source of stress:
- School shootings make school feel unsafe
- Growing pressure to succeed in impossible ways makes that even successes feel like failure
- Changes in society make it difficult to parents to understand when kids are anxious – responses like “oh everyone feels that way in high school” or “I lived through it and so will you” minimize the way we feel and make it difficult to share our concerns.
TILT School Board Meetings Public Comments from TIL teens:
Last Spring six of our members presented to the school board about those concerns. While we could not hear their thoughts, their actions demonstrated that we were on the same page. We will be requesting a workshop with the Board of Education for additional conversations. Several of us met with Jennifer Lyons (Director of Health and Social Emotional Learning) last Spring – and are looking for new ways for us to work with the district. We were excited about the changes that the school board has taken on many of these items: clarification on the use of genius hour, the addition of a social worker to see students, and the new Paths course to assist freshman in the transition to high school. We encourage you to see these impressive young people speaking truth to power.
March 27, 2018: https://laketravisisdtx.swagit.com/play/03282019-501
- Kade Foster: School safety and its mental health outcomes (need additional counselors, mental health classes, overcrowding)
- Clay (Clara) Horton: Pressure to succeed among kids at LTISD is hurting kids mental health.
April 17, 2019: https://laketravisisdtx.swagit.com/play/04172019-1196
- Kate Horton: Mindless graded assignments do not help students and add stress.
- Trinity Sutherland: Need school counselors who focus on mental health not scheduling and registration
May 15, 2019: https://laketravisisdtx.swagit.com/play/05152019-1500
- Cecily Larcher: Value of competition and winning over supporting and assisting one another at LTHS. Need more counselors, students engaged in the planning around improving mental health, and students talking to diverse student groups directly.
- Charlotte Horton: Need more counselors in schools – to focus solely on counseling. Depression and anxiety is invisible and we need people within school system to reach out to kids who are disengaged.
New Tune Into Life Teen Efforts:
TILT seeks to raise awareness in Lakeway of mental health concerns in teens. TILT is holding meetings with leaders in Lakeway to seek to develop community activities to help all those living in Lakeway to understand the stresses modern adolescents are facing and to have the skills and information to support them. The students are facilitated by adults but the meetings and there outcomes are dictated by young people. In recognition of national research on the efficacy of self-determination in building resilient young people the group follows this model. At every phase young people plan and implement their ideas. The group meets, usually on Sunday evenings – at Hill Country Indoor. Our next meeting is October 6, 2019 from 430-6:00pm at HCI. Tune Into Life is seeking to train community leaders on these issues and the Tune Into Life Teens are working to develop community awareness raising events such as community movie nights (like Screenagers held in Fall 2016) – talks, and learning opportunities. We continue to seek interested 7th-12th graders to join Tune Into Life Teens. If you have young people interested in joining the group in planning for our upcoming meeting with Mayor Cox – please contact the group’s facilitator [email protected] or (203) 895-2836.
Our next adult training (Community Coalition for Positive Youth Development) is being held on October 17th and 24th from 11am-1pm each day. This training is for adults who work with young people in either volunteer or paid positions and seeks to give them the skills to recognize depression and anxiety in teens and find ways to address it. Broader community trainings will be held in the Spring of 2020. For more information on the upcoming training or the work of Tune Into Life please contact its founder Kathleen Hassenfratz.