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Video of the seminar below:

Tri-Valley Teen Stress Seminar Attracts Parents, Youth

By: Jonathan Ye

Teen stress has increasingly become an issue, as more and more high school students are driven towards academic success, pressured by peers and parents, all the while being distracted by technology.  Such stress is especially heightened as AP tests and finals loom ahead.

Against this backdrop, Global Leadership Initiative (GLI), a non-profit organization made up of middle and high schoolers from across the East Bay, hosted its annual Youth Mental Health Seminar on Saturday, April 14. Dr. Julie Xie, a school psychologist from the Fremont Unified School District, presented an in-depth analysis of teen stress and offered parents and teens much-needed advice on how to avoid, manage and control stress.

“At GLI, we feel that teen stress is an important and pressing issue,” said GLI co-presidents Darron Dai and Ashley Zhuang, “Thus, we hold annual seminars to help the community reflect and learn.”

The seminar was held in Tri-Valley Chinese Bible Church in Pleasanton and was open to the public. Attendees, well exceeding 200, were predominantly high school students and their parents.

Speaking from her 18 years of experience working with teenagers, Dr. Xie emphasized the importance for parents and their teenagers to learn how to maintain  healthy relationships and healthy life habits.

She explained how teens are becoming increasingly and unhealthily stressed, how their mental health is suffering, and its negative effects. In a national study, the American Psychological Association found that 42% of students do not do anything to manage their stress. In addition, she talked about how high school is a crucial time for growth and development, both mentally and emotionally.

Dr. Xie then offered advice on how to prevent or address these conditions and stay healthy. To students, Dr. Xie provided tips that they can immediately implement to manage time effectively and to avoid addictive traps of social media and games. She also stressed the importance of finding one’s passion and motivation. “As long as you have one class that you really enjoy, that’s enough to motivate you to work hard and do better,” she said.

To the parents, she emphasized the value of supporting their children and developing a strong channel of communication with them. “As our children develop, our mouths should get smaller and our ears should get larger,” she said, pointing to an image of Mickey Mouse projected on the wall. Dr. Xie encouraged parents to understand their children’s interests and motivations, as well as seeing their strengths and achievements.

“Studies have shown that in order for your teenage children to be receptive of your criticism, you should give four genuinely positive comments before giving constructive criticism,” Dr. Xie stated.

Parents should also try to cultivate their children to be independent and self-motivated, rather than reliant on their encouragement. “Teens need a sense of autonomy, competence, and connection.”

Dr. Xie also answered questions from the audience, giving advice on topics such as managing technology use and social relationships.

Dr. Xie’s speech was met with enthusiastic applause. “I am really grateful for Dr. Xie for coming and giving us a speech,” said Roy Lin, the event organizer, “I’m sure that plenty of parents and teens found the seminar to be interesting and informative.”

Through the seminar, GLI and Dr. Xie have helped raise awareness about teen stress, and showed students how to better manage their stress and showed parents how to better understand and support their children.