UCLA study:Youth Empowerment Seminar helps to relieve adolescent stress

15 Jul

Moi wrote in Schools have to deal with depressed and troubled children:
Both the culture and the economy are experiencing turmoil. For some communities, the unsettled environment is a new phenomenon, for other communities, children have been stressed for generations. According to the article, Understanding Depression which was posted at the Kids Health site:

Depression is the most common mental health problem in the United States. Each year it affects 17 million people of all age groups, races, and economic backgrounds.
As many as 1 in every 33 children may have depression; in teens, that number may be as high as 1 in 8.

Schools are developing strategies to deal with troubled kids. https://drwilda.com/2011/11/15/schools-have-to-deal-with-depressed-and-troubled-children/
A team of researchers has studied the Youth Empowerment Seminar.
Here is a description of the Art of Living Foundation which developed the Youth Empowerment Seminar:
Frequently Asked Questions about the Art of Living Foundation

Q: What are the goals of the Art of Living Foundation?
A stress-free and violence-free society; to encourage people from all backgrounds, religions, and cultural traditions to come together in celebration, meditation and service. To achieve these goals, we offer courses and humanitarian projects to eliminate stress from the mind and violence from society. Prevention is easier than cure: peaceful individuals do not contribute to conflict on an individual nor on a societal level. If people are materially poor or suffering from the effects of a natural disaster or war, their stress will be related to that. The International Art of Living Foundation offers material assistance or trauma relief. Take a look at some brief reports on our humanitarian activities, following the Tsunami and Kosovo conflicts. We offer education and empowerment programs so people can break the poverty cycle. On the other hand, those who are affluent may nevertheless be frustrated, depressed or simply wanting to grow spiritually in life. In the latter case, it is not material support that is needed but training programs like the Art of Living Part 1 course. These are for anyone who would like to learn some breathing techniques to release tension, and enable the individual to handle any challenge.
Q: What is the significance of the breath? Why is it so important?
Q: How long has the Art of Living Part I course been taught?
Q: What is a satsang? I noticed The Art of Living organizes events called satsangs where there is a lot of singing and dancing, like a party. It looks like a lot of fun, but what has that to do with stress relief or promoting human values?
Q: Is it a self development program or something spiritual?
Q: So, can anyone take part in a program?
Q: Where do the techniques come from? India? Yoga?
Q: How can I become a member of your organization?
Q: You often cooperate with the International Association for Human Values. What is the connection between the two organizations?
Q: How can I volunteer with your organization?
Q: In your press releases it is mentioned that your activities are ‘volunteer-based’? Why do so many people want to join in? What do they get out of it?
Q: What is meant by ‘seva’? You sometimes speak about it in your press releases.
Q: In your websites you speak about ‘spiritual’ values. Doesn’t that mean The Art of Living is a religious organization?
Q: How do the finances work? Some of your programs are paid, like the Part 1 course, and others like trauma relief support are sponsored by the organisation?
Q: What is the profile of the organization? Is the organization a charity? A training organization?
Q: You are a charitable organization – so why do you have course contribution for your courses?
Q: Is the ashram wheelchair accessible?
Q: Are there any rules and customs in the Ashram or on the program that I should be aware of?

Here is a basic description of the program:

The Youth Empowerment Seminar (YES!) is a dynamic and fun program that challenges teens to take responsibility for their life and provides a comprehensive set of practical tools for releasing stress, mastering emotions, and raising self-awareness. The program addresses:
Teens’ physical, mental, social, and emotional development
Breathing techniques to relieve stress and bring the mind into focus
Dynamic games and yoga
Practical knowledge to create awareness
Experiential processes to develop problem-solving strategies
Dynamic group discussions designed to help teens feel at ease in challenging situations, increase confidence, withstand criticism and peer pressure

Here is the press release from UCLA:

Note to teens: Just breathe
By Mark Wheeler July 09, 2013
In May, the Los Angeles school board voted to ban suspensions of students for “willful defiance” and directed school officials to use alternative disciplinary practices. The decision was controversial, and the question remains: How do you discipline rowdy students and keep them in the classroom while still being fair to other kids who want to learn?
A team led by Dara Ghahremani, an assistant researcher in the department of psychiatry at UCLA’s Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior conducted a study on the Youth Empowerment Seminar, or YES!, a workshop for adolescents that teaches them to manage stress, regulate their emotions, resolve conflicts and control impulsive behavior. Impulsive behavior, in particular — including acting out in class, engaging in drug or alcohol abuse, and risky sexual behaviors — is something that gets adolescents in trouble.
The YES! program, run by the nonprofit International Association for Human Values, includes yoga-based breathing practices, among other techniques, and the research findings show that a little bit of breathing can go a long way. The scientists report that students who went through the four-week YES! for Schools program felt less impulsive, while students in a control group that didn’t participate in the program showed no change.
The study appears in the July issue of the Journal of Adolescent Health.
“The program helps teens to gain greater control over their actions by giving them tools to respond to challenging situations in constructive and mindful ways, rather than impulsively,” said Ghahremani, who conducted the study at the UCLA Center for Addictive Behaviors and UCLA’s Laboratory for Molecular Neuroimaging. “The program uses a variety of techniques, ranging from a powerful yoga-based breathing program called Sudarshan Kriya to decision-making and leadership skills that are taught via interactive group games. We found it to be a simple yet powerful approach that could potentially reduce impulsive behavior.”
Ghahremani noted that teens are often just as stressed as adults.
“There are home and family issues, academic pressures and, of course, social pressures,” he said. “With the immediacy and wide reach of communication technology, like Facebook, peer pressure and bullying has risen to a whole new level. Without the tools to handle such pressures, teens can often resort to impulsive acts that include violence towards others or themselves.”
Impulsive behavior, or a lack of self-control, in adolescence is a key predictor of risky behavior, Ghahremani said.
“Substance abuse and various mental health problems that begin in adolescence are often very difficult to shake in adulthood — there is a need for interventions that bring impulsive behavior under control in this group,” he said. “Our research is the first scientific study of the YES! program to show that it can significantly reduce impulsive behavior.”
For the study, students between the ages of 14 and 18 from three Los Angeles–area high schools were invited to participate, between spring 2010 and fall 2011. In total, 788 students participated — 524 in the YES! program and 264 in the control group. The program was taught during the students’ physical education courses for four consecutive weeks. Students were asked to fill out questionnaires to rate statements about their impulsive behavior — for example, “I act without thinking” and “I feel self-control most of the time” — directly before and directly after the program. The students who did not go through the program also completed the questionnaires.
The YES! program is composed of three modules focused on healthy body, healthy mind and healthy lifestyle. The healthy body module consists of physical activity that includes yoga stretches, mindful eating processes and interactive discussions about food and nutrition. The healthy mind module includes stress-management and relaxation techniques, including yoga-based breathing practices, yoga postures and meditation to relax the nervous system, bring awareness to the moment and enhance concentration. Group processes promote personal responsibility, respect, honesty and service to others. In the healthy lifestyle module, students learn strategies for handling challenging emotional and social situations, especially peer pressure. Mindful decision-making and leadership skills are taught via interactive games. Students also create a group community-service project, applying their newly learned skills toward that goal.
“There is a need for simple, engaging interventions that bring impulsive behavior under control in adolescents,” said Ghahremani. “This is important to the public because impulsive behavior in adolescents is associated with many mental health problems and, when left unchecked, can result in violent acts, such as those resulting in tragedies recently observed on school campuses.
“The advantage of this program over approaches that center around psychiatric medications is that it develops a sense of responsibility and empowerment in teens, allowing them to clarify and pursue their goals while fostering a sense of connection to their community. Although some medications can help control impulsive behavior, they often come with unpleasant side effects and the risk of medication abuse. Moreover, approaches that rely on them don’t necessarily focus on empowering kids to take control of their lives. ”
Non-pharmacologically–based programs like YES! for Schools that increase self-control are important to explore since they offer concrete tools that students can actively apply to their everyday lives with noticeable results, Ghahremani said.
To follow up on results from this study, the National Institute on Drug Abuse has awarded Ghahremani and his colleagues a grant to examine the effects of the YES! program by using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to study the brain circuitry that is important for self-control and emotion regulation. The project also aims to examine how the YES! program can reduce cravings among teen smokers.
Other authors of the study included Eugene Y. Oh, Andrew C. Dean, Kristina Mouzakis, Kristen D. Wilson and senior author Edythe D. London, all of UCLA. Funding for the study was provided by an endowment from the Thomas P. and Katherine K. Pike Chair in Addiction Studies and a gift from the Marjorie M. Greene Trust.
The UCLA Department of Psychiatry is part of the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior at UCLA, a world-leading interdisciplinary research and education institute devoted to the understanding of complex human behavior — including the genetic, biological, behavioral and sociocultural underpinnings of normal behavior and the causes and consequences of neuropsychiatric disorders. In addition to conducting fundamental research, institute faculty members seek to develop effective strategies for the prevention and treatment of neurological, psychiatric and behavioral disorders, including improving access to mental health services and the shaping of national health policy.
For more news, visit the UCLA Newsroom and follow us on Twitter.


Effects of the Youth Empowerment Seminar on Impulsive Behavior in Adolescents
Dara G. Ghahremani, Ph.D.,
Eugene Y. Oh,
Andrew C. Dean, Ph.D.,
Kristina Mouzakis,
Kristen D. Wilson, R.N.,
Edythe D. London, Ph.D.
Received 23 August 2012; accepted 8 February 2013. published online 17 April 2013.
Full Text
Because impulsivity during adolescence predicts health-risk behaviors and associated harm, interventions that attenuate impulsivity may offer protection. We evaluated effects of the Youth Empowerment Seminar (YES!), a biopsychosocial workshop for adolescents that teaches skills of stress management, emotion regulation, conflict resolution, and attentional focus, on impulsive behavior.
High school students (14–18 years of age) in the United States participated in YES! during their physical education classes. Students in a control group attended their usual curriculum and were tested in parallel. We used items from the Barratt Impulsiveness Scale (framed to reflect recent behavior) to assess students’ behavior before and after they underwent the program.
Compared with the control group, YES! participants reported less impulsive behavior after the program.
The results suggest that YES! can promote mental health in adolescents, potentially protecting them from harmful coping behaviors.

Moi discussed some of the possible implications of this type of program in Can’t yoga be watered down like Christmas was? Is there a ‘happy holidays’ yoga?
Here’s today’s COMMENT FROM AN OLD FART: Remember when the forces of secularism pushed the “Happy Holidays” maximum because no one should be offended by the expression of “Merry Christmas.” The forces of tolerance and celebrate diversity did not want YOUR religion forced on ME. So much for that “celebrate diversity” thing. Let’s fast forward to the yoga movement and the attempt to spread love, joy, and flexible limbs into the education setting….
The problem for many Christians and particularly Christian parents is NOT that kids don’t need exercise, they do. The problem is the spiritual aspects which emphasize the “Divine.” That is not what Christians believe.  The majority of Christians believe in the Trinity. Guess what, the FIRST AMENDMENT protects those beliefs.
So, what is a “celebrate diversity,” we are soooo tolerant, and hip to boot school district supposed to do when confronted with the “yoga conundrum?” Well, bucky, one waters down the concept as with “happy holidays’ and the new name is ” yocise,” the divine becomes your healthy life. “Yocise” focuses on YOU and fits with the culture’s philosophy of ME and we are no more tolerant with “yocise” than we were with “happy holidays.” “Celebrate diversity.”


‘Becoming A Man’ course: Helping young African-American men avoid prison
Schools have to deal with depressed and troubled children https://drwilda.wordpress.com/2011/11/15/schools-have-to-deal-with-depressed-and-troubled-children/
School psychologists are needed to treat troubled children
Battling teen addiction: ‘Recovery high schools’

If you or your child needs help for depression or another illness, then go to a reputable medical provider. There is nothing wrong with taking the steps necessary to get well.

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