- New Study: EI Trainings for Teens to Improve their Mental Health -

By Lisa Franchi republished on February 08, 2018

Training teens on how to handle their emotions strengthens their mental health. As a result, they suffer less of mental disorders such as anxiety, depression, and social stress, reported a new study published in the Journal of Adolescent Health.

The researchers, led by Dr Desiree Ruiz-Aranda, a psychology professor at the University of Malaga, conducted 24 training sessions (each lasted for an hour) involving around 300 Spanish students. The purpose of the training is to improve their emotional intelligence (EI). During the study, teens participated in various activities such as arts, open discussions, games, and role plays which were designed to measure their ability to handle emotions and build empathy on solving emotional problems. 6 months later, the researchers conducted series of tests to determine the effects of the said training. They found out that those who went through it had lower measures of social stress, depression, and other negative feelings as compared to those who didn’t.

What is Emotional Intelligence?

According to Dr Ruiz-Aranda, EI refers to one’s ability to assess or perceive, express, and take control of their emotions. Some researchers claim that emotional intelligence is something that can be learned and strengthened while others believe that it is an inborn characteristic. But on this specific study, it seems that EI is something that can be developed. The ability to handle emotions is essential for one’s physical and psychological wellbeing, she added. Aside from having low measures of negative emotions, teenagers who have strong EI are less prone to risky behaviours.

EI Should Be Developed Early as Possible

Dr Ruiz-Aranda said ‘emotional abilities need to begin as early as possible and preventive interventions should ideally be provided prior to developing significant symptoms’. She suggests that successful programs on handling emotions should be provided to individuals of different ages, cultures, and must be applicable to everyday life.

Dr Gary Low, a retired professor of Education at the Texas A&M University in Kingsville, pointed out that schools haven’t done well in training students to better handle their emotions. He also added that they don’t usually help students learn how to cope with emotional challenges like stress, fear, and relationships.

Perhaps, this study is an eye-opener for schools and the government to take action and do some changes with the current curriculum. As Dr Ruiz-Aranda puts it – adolescents who are healthier mentally are healthier physically.

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