CHBS seniors share mental health tips with middle schoolers

College of Health and Behavioral Studies

Allison Layne and Tiffany Tanaka, senior Health Sciences majors, collaborated this semester to give a presentation to students at Skyline Middle School on mental health, wellness and stress management.

The middle school students who attended the presentation are in the Advancement Via Individual Determination course. Students receive additional academic, social, and emotional support to students who are traditionally underrepresented in higher education, so they may “succeed on a path to college and career success,” according to the AVID website.

“The topic of our presentation was mental health and self-care,” Tanaka said. “During this time in their lives, when they’re going into high school and thinking about college, it can be really stressful. We want them to be able to be resilient.”

Tanaka said the goal of the presentation was to help the middle school students “be prepared for life and obstacles they may come into in the future to avoid poor coping strategies.”

“We did three presentations total at Skyline Middle School,” Layne said. During the presentation, Tanaka and Layne provided opportunities for students to discuss in groups and participate in activities to provide tips on managing stress.

Tanaka explained that some sources of stress some students may feel related to being potential first-generation college students, since there may be fewer connections with adults who know how to or have experience navigating college application processes.

“It’s really important for us to be able to give them firsthand perspectives of college students and what we do to try and cope with [stress], so that they can get a head start for whatever they decide to do after they graduate,” Layne said.

“It’s important for them to have those resources,” Tanaka said. “That’s something they have in AVID.”

Layne observed that many of the students realized they weren’t consciously doing much to deal with the stress they feel on a regular basis. “It was really interesting to see how they were thinking: ‘Oh, that’s something that could actually work and I could put into my own life,’” Layne said.

Tanaka and Layne were connected to this presentation opportunity through their independent study with Health Sciences faculty member Kristi Lewis, who also serves as a professor-in-residence at Skyline Middle School.

The two met frequently throughout the semester to prepare for the presentation. “We bounced ideas off each other and found ways to make a cohesive presentation,” Layne said. “Every two weeks or so we met with Dr. Lewis for about 30 minutes, just to check in and let her know what our progress was.”

Tanaka said she was originally interested in the independent study as a way she “could get closer to a professor that I really admire.” She observed Lewis’ “passion for teaching” and “wanted to engage with [Dr. Lewis] and get more experience with presenting.”

“I wanted to have an experience where I could talk to a different population,” Layne said.

She also expressed interest in working more closely with Lewis. “I really like Dr. Lewis as a professor,” Layne said. “I think she’s a great leader, and I really enjoyed working with her. She was super supportive during the whole thing.”

“I want to be a registered nurse,” said Tanaka, who is attending nursing school after she graduates this spring. “Building relationships and being able to show empathy is important” in the nursing field, Tanaka said. One of her biggest takeaways from the presentation experience was developing communication skills with younger people.

“Delivering health information is important for health care providers,” Lewis said. “They have an opportunity to develop something and gain presentation skills.”

After graduating next December, Layne plans to go to nursing school, eventually getting certified as a registered nurse and a nurse midwife.

“With my field, I want to work with moms and babies and kids,” Layne said. She feels this experience will help her communicate in ways that are professional and understandable for patients of different ages.

“It was heartwarming because it made me think of my younger siblings,” Tanaka said. “It’s a long journey they’re going to go into, and it can be really exciting. Being able to give advice about that is really nice.”

“Overall, it gave me a great sense of teamwork and how to lean on another person, because it was definitely not a one-person job,” Layne said. “It was a great learning experience.”

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by Lindsey Park

Published: Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Last Updated: Thursday, May 30, 2024

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