Since CandleX started, we have been invited to provide mental health workshops and presentations in and out of school for teenagers. Given the concerning prevalence and severity of mental health issues amongst teenagers, we are now offering more support to this age group.
CandleX’s Mental Health for Teens Program:
Goals: to reduce social stigma of mental health on campus; to provide tools and local resources for mental health wellbeing; and to raise awareness of the importance of peer support
Public education: delivered through talks and interactive workshops
Target group: schools and education agencies that work with teens
Teenagers in China
Research shows that students in China have some of the highest-ranking results in academic proficiency. However, this success comes at a price. Chinese teenagers are also reported to have some of the highest stress and anxiety levels in the world, higher than not only their counterparts in the West, but also neighboring South Korea and Japan.
Like their international counterparts, Chinese high schoolers face academic difficulties, vigorous exam preparation and competitive university application process. China’s high schoolers and college students are experiencing high levels of anxiety and stress.
While preparing for the exams, the students also feel pressure from their parents and teachers to deliver high results and bring honor to their family through succeeding in college entrance exams. As the majority of adolescents in present-day China are single children, they are under even more pressure and fear disappointing their parents and family.
In addition, the teenagers in China face some problems that are unique to this nation due to the changing social environment. Due to the rapid economic and political transformation, the youngest generation cannot keep up with the rising competition in the academic and career life, thus leading to anxiety and chronic stress.
There is also a lack of mental health services. The students do not receive sufficient mental health education in the schools. Therefore, their families have difficulties dealing with the troubling emotions. Moreover, even if available, pupils rarely take advantage of the services at schools, as they tend to be unaware of their own issues.
This is one of the most important problems and CandleX would like to step in to help combat the overwhelming social stigma towards mental health in China. The previous problems cause much distress to the students, however, the undermining of the psychological issues and even social isolation or bullying from their peers that comes with it pushes many more into the darkness.
Foreign Teenagers | Beijing’s context
In addition to the local Chinese students, there are many foreign students who come to China on short-term academic exchanges or internship programs. These adolescents face a different set of troubles, from feeling societal isolation to adapting and confronting cultural shock.
A similar situation may await the Chinese high schoolers, who wish to go to a college abroad. They also need to learn new cultural and communicational skills to function well in an unfamiliar environment. These students, who lack mental health preparation for the move abroad, are the target group of CandleX’s services.
CandleX has been doing its best to provide emotional help for the teenagers (high schoolers, exchange students, students preparing for college and so on) in China through various personalized workshops and talks. By talking and giving names to the emotions, the students may feel more comfortable in facing negative moods and even learn how to manage their emotional well-being.
Mental health presentation at Dulwich College 2016
Since CandleX began, it has been actively providing help for teenagers in China (and abroad). The service mainly consists of workshops and interactive presentations for international and Chinese students. In the past year, CandleX has given talks and workshops in various institutions around Beijing such as international high schools (Dulwich College Beijing), preparatory institutes for American colleges (ESC Scholars) and CET who provides services for foreign interns in Beijing. The contents of the workshops were customized to each student body. Some of the workshops focused more on cultural shock or ways to adapt in a new foreign environment, in the case of Chinese students heading to the USA or international students doing short-term internships in China. Other workshops dealt with emotional release, ways to deal with academic stress, depression, and approaching university life.