Mental health expert offers tips for stressed out students

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Students at Pleasant Valley High School are learning how to better handle stress.

On Wednesday, December 2, 2015, guest speaker Chris McCormick Pries visited with students, teachers and parents. As clinical director at Vera French, McCormick Pries has more than 40 of experience dealing with mental health.

"The first question I asked all the kids was, 'Do any of you ever worry about things to the point where sometimes you lose sleep about it or you're really anxious about it?' And I would say almost every hand went up in the auditorium," said McCormick Pries.

McCormick Pries emphasized that parents need to let their kids make mistakes and fail, not protect them from conflict and difficulty. She suggests parents shift into more of a mentor role, as opposed to a director, especially as children enter high school.

"Over the years, what I have seen is that parents are more and more involved in the day-to-day, minute decisions that kids are making about themselves and about how they manage and spend their time," said McCormick Pries. "I know you love your kids, but don't love them so much that you get in their way of growing up."

McCormick Pries also believes students should know that while grades are important, there's much more to school than academic achievement.

"Awards are nice, but they're not what it's about. What it's about is learning what you need to learn, and experiencing music, sports, clubs, extracurricular activities. That's what makes you as a person," she said.

Parents in attendance at Wednesday night's event said it was a much-needed reminder.

"I do see stress, and I think some of it is possibly imposed by me," said mom RobinĀ  Moralez. "You've gotta let your children make their decisions, fall on their faces from time-to-time, and be there to pick them up."

Vera French offers school-based mental health services in every public school district in Scott County.

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