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Mental Health Matters: Coping with stress & anxiety

Mental Health Matters is a series of Surrey Schools articles that highlights issues and challenges identified by our school counsellors and psychologists as ones commonly experienced by students of all ages. Read them all at

Life as a student can be stressful. Pressures from school, home, friends and extracurricular activities can sometimes become overwhelming and when those feelings don’t seem to end, they can lead to persistent feelings of anxiousness and worry.

The subject, said district psychologist Coralee Curby, is an important one.

“Stress and anxiety is normal for all of us, we encounter it everyday,” she said. “But for those who may be feeling overwhelmed, it’s more about being able to re-frame that stress can be just a natural part of life.”

Curby said people of all ages can struggle to cope with stress and anxiety when they are facing multiple stressors. That can be especially common for young people and children as they are often experiencing many new things for the first time in their lives.

The key to dealing with that, said Curby, is teaching them to healthy ways to manage stress rather than always avoiding it.

“It’s similar to practicing and training our bodies to play sports. We don’t want to take people out of the sport, but to help their ability to perform and manage anything that comes their way.

“Part of that is encouraging kids to identify the things that bring them happiness, the things they’re grateful for and how to use those to strengthen themselves as humans so they can deal with the stress and anxiety whenever it comes.”

Another key aspect in helping young people manage is ensuring they know that there’s support available and that it’s normal and healthy to reach out for help when it feels like the stress is becoming too much.

“You can be sitting in a classroom and not know that one in five of your classmates could be managing some pretty significant stressors,” explained Curby. “So by normalizing that, it helps us understand that we’re all navigating these things together.”

To learn more about how to help students and youths navigate stress and anxiety, Surrey Schools has created a video exploring Coping with Stress & Anxiety.

As with our other animated mental health video resources, there are two versions of the Coping with Stress & Anxiety video available, one for elementary aged students and another for intermediate/secondary aged students. Each video also has a corresponding teacher guide to support classroom discussions about the topic in an age-appropriate manner. There is also a parent guide to all the videos, with suggestions on questions to prompt conversations, as well as community resources if families need additional support.
Coping with Stress & Anxiety is also available in French, Punjabi, Mandarin and Arabic.

To see the rest of the video series, click here, or select the topic below: 

These videos were developed in partnership with Fraser Health and the Ministry of Education and Child Care, which provided financial support for the project.

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