With the HSC in full swing in NSW, parents will be all too aware of how stressful a time this can be for teenagers.

 

Whether you believe it should be a stressful time or not isn’t the point of this post. The fact is that research reveals that approximately 40% of Year 12 HSC students and 25% of Year 11 HSC students experience symptoms of depression, anxiety and or stress exceeding the normal or expected values.

 

Females report suffering from these symptoms more than their male peers, and appear to make more poor lifestyle choices.

 

One example is the lack of physical activity that Year 11 & 12 girls take part in each week.

 

We all know the benefits of physical activity on wellbeing, yet very few schools provide timetabled opportunities for their Year 11 & 12 students to take part in activity. Schools prefer to dedicate time to the academic side of things.

 

I’ve long argued that if schools looked to genuinely engage their students, and made wellbeing a core focus, then achievement would follow as a result. However, too often schools chase achievement at the expense of engagement, and particularly wellbeing.

 

The research paper quoted above, concludes by recommending that secondary schools in Australia should focus on providing supportive environments for health by offering HSC students the chance to take part in conveniently located, free of charge exercise classes.

 

Some schools will say they offer extra-curricular opportunities, usually outside of school hours, but these same schools will also recommend these same kids do 3-4 hours of homework/study per night.

 

Personally, I can’t think of a more convenient location than at school, during the day.

Author: Dan Haesler, he is a teacher, consultant, and speaker at the Mental Health & Wellbeing of Young People seminars. He is the co-developer of Happy Schools and blogs at http://danhaesler.com/ and tweets at @danhaesler