The third in a series of community presentations, sponsored by the Watchung Hills Regional High School (WHRHS) Healthy Edge Committee, the school’s Parent Teacher Organization (PTO), and the Watchung Hills Regional Municipal Alliance (WHRMA) was given on the subject of Anxiety and Stress Management of teenagers. It gave parents a discerning look at the mental health challenges faced by teenagers as well as the parents who love them.
The special guest speakers were Mental Health Therapists John Mopper and Michele Levin, a couple who are co-owners of Blueprint Mental Health, Somerville. Blueprint’s slogan is “Extraordinary Counseling for an Extra-Ordinary Generation.”
They spoke after the audience viewed a documentary, Angst: Anxiety Disorders Are Real, Common and Treatable., which featured first person comments by a variety of teens, parents, counselors, and therapists, discussing: examples of their stress, anxieties and/or their “anxiousness,” and the differences between them; triggers to the onslaught of episodes and waves of stress and anxiety; the frustrations over some of the supportive versus not-so-supportive reactions given by even loved ones to stress and anxieties; and the various coping mechanisms employed by people who are experiencing stress and anxiety episodes.
One of the highlights of the documentary is an appearance by record-breaking gold medal winner Olympic Swimmer Michael Phelps. A very young student in the film, who is physically diminutive in size as well, states one of his steps to dealing with his stress and anxieties was when he found out that Phelps, one of his sports heroes, shared some of the very same anxieties.
Surprise, surprise — quietly, and without fanfare, Phelps, the basketball star-sized athlete, walks into the picture, and sits beside the pre-teen. At first the child couldn’t believe it, but then the larger than life Phelps transformed himself into a person who shares that he very much has much in-common with the young student. Phelps secured the trust of the young student by sharing some his approaches to discovering, working on, and learning how to reach out, seek help, find someone who truly understands. Then, it was a matter of training himself on how to cope with the stress and anxiety, not unlike how he has to train as an Olympic swimmer. Both take persistence and practice.
The Watchung Hills Regional Municipal Alliance (WHRMA) is a community partnership of volunteers, with a long history of serving the students, parents, and families of Warren Township, Watchung Borough, Green Brook and Long Hill Townships. It is part of the NJ Governor’s Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse. WHRMA identifies community needs and develops prevention programs to address those areas.