Stress is one of the top ten health concerns in adolescence and is getting worse. Adolescents experience many changes in their daily lives, however are not sufficiently equipped with skills to help them deal with the increased demands and stress they experience (World Health Organization, 1997). Psychosocial competence in youth was researched in order to better understand their abilities to make the best choice as related to mental, emotional, and physical challenges they experience. This report will examine the significance of psychosocial competence in adolescents, and its relationship to functioning effectively. Furthermore, research reviewed the encouragement of psychosocial competence through life skills training and its positive effects on the fundamental roles in an adolescent’s life.
Significance of Psychosocial Competence in Youth
A considerable component to growing up is dealing with change. Adolescents experience many changes following the ebb and flow of their daily lives and with those changes demands choices, for better or for worse. Studying the aspects of these changes gives insight into the dynamics of choice and how adolescents respond to them. Psychosocial competence in youth was researched in order to better understand their abilities to make the best choice as related to mental, emotional, and physical challenges they experience. This report will examine the significance of psychosocial competence in adolescents, and its relationship to functioning effectively. Furthermore, research reviewed the encouragement of psychosocial competence through life skills training and its positive effects on the fundamental roles in an adolescent’s life. Definitions
Psychosocial competence is a person’s ability to deal effectively with the demands and challenges of everyday life. It is a person’s ability to maintain a state of mental well-being and to demonstrate this in adaptive and positive behavior while interacting with others and their environment (World Health Organization, 1997). Discussion
Significance of Psychosocial Competence in Adolescents
There is growing recognition that with the rapid rate of social change, many adolescents are not sufficiently equipped with skills to help them deal with the increased demands and stress they experience in their lives (WHO, 1997). Research indicates that psychosocial competence is an important attribute for adolescents because of the negative behavior and internalized distress that happen as a result of inadequate skills (Tyler, 1993). Stress is one of the top ten health concerns in adolescence and it’s getting worse (Archer). Stress is characterized by an individual’s feelings and response to difficulties or challenges in conjunction with their ability to handle and resolve the issues (Clarke, 2006). A significant number of teens frequently experience stress and worry in their lives. The two frequent areas of stress happen at school and home (Archer). The common sources of adolescent stress are school work, parents, romantic relationships, friends’ problems, and younger siblings (Chandra, 2006). Thus, the needs to provide stress management and youth development programs have been recommended (Chandra, 2006; Clarke, 2006; WHO, 1997). Psychosocial Competence and Functioning Effectively
The ability to cope adaptively with life’s stressors is an important development function (Clark, 2006) and a key component to psychosocial competence (WHO, 1997). Adolescents can develop coping strategies by learning assertive communication and problem-solving skills. For example, adolescents can learn and practice skills to: define the problem; think of various solutions to the problem; weigh up advantages and disadvantages of each; choose the most appropriate solution and plan how to carry it out (WHO, 1997). These coping strategies have proven to enhance mental well-being and positive behavior during times of stress. Research states that the inability to cope with stress puts youth at high risk for depression and self-destructive behavior (Clark 2006; Terzian & Nguyen, 2010). These types of responses can result in “personal drug and alcohol use, running away from home, prolonged sadness and crying, unusual impulsivity or recklessness or dramatic changes in personal habits” (Clarke, 2006).
It is important that adolescents develop coping skills before stress results in negative physical, mental, and cognitive outcomes (Terzian & Nguyen, 2010). Ultimately, the ability to understand the dynamics of stress and choose a healthy coping strategy is a fundamental role in an adolescent’s life. Most young people will develop and assume the responsibility for their stress, but evidence supports the significance of psychosocial competence and the advantages adolescents gain by having the skills to effectively face the interminable challenges they experience (Chandra, 2006). Promotion of Psychosocial Competence through Life Skills Training The most direct intervention for the promotion of psychosocial competence is enhancing a person’s life skills. Life skills teach individuals to translate knowledge, attitudes and values into actual abilities that help them deal with the demands and challenges of their everyday lives. Life skills for psychosocial competence in young people look at the generic and practical life skills in relation to common health and social problems (WHO, 1997).
The methods used in teaching life skills to young people are active acquisitions, processing and structuring of experiences as described in the Social Learning Theory (Bandura, 1977). Role play, games and debate are methods that can be used to teach life skills. These methods promote active participation and result in the actual practice of the respective life skill through situational based problems, which is a vital component to the skills training and learning process (WHO, 1997). WHO (1997) identifies a core set of skills for the promotion of the health and well-being of children and adolescents. The set encompasses skill-based initiatives in the five following areas: decision make and problem solving; creative and critical thinking; effective communication and interpersonal relationship skills; self-awareness and empathy; coping with emotions and coping with stress. The skills are taught as abilities that can be acquired through learning and practice. Life skills education is a worthwhile program as a result of the potential gains seen in evaluation studies from other programs (WHO, 1997). For example, there are indications that life skills lessons are associated with few reports of classroom behavior problems and improved academic performance (Clark, 2006).
There is also research that suggests the methods in life skills education helped to improve teach and pupil relationships. Other positive effects include improved school attendance, less bulling, fewer referrals to special support services and better relationships between children and their parents (Terzian & Nguyen, 2010). Teaching generic life skills in relation to everyday life establishes the foundation for the mental well-being, and healthy interactions and behavior. There are research indications that teaching problem specific skills, such as dealing with peer pressure to use drugs, is an effective approach for primary preventive education; including programs for the prevention of substance abuse, adolescent pregnancy, the promotion of intelligence, and the prevention of bullying (Clarke, 2006; Perry & Kelder, 1992). Promoting primary prevention education brings awareness to life skills and the risks youth face when they are not psychosocially competent (Perry & Kelder, 1992; WHO, 1997). Conclusion
The research shows evidence to support the significance of psychosocial competence in youth and the advantages gained by having the skills to effectively face the interminable challenges they experience. The ability to understand the dynamics of stress and choose a healthy coping strategy is a skill that can be learned and practiced through life skills training. Life skills programs have been recognized to offer benefits to psychosocial competence and the health and well-being in youth, but what is unclear is how to effectively incorporate and manage the programs. As a result, it is necessary to conduct further research to provide insights about the implementation of life skills programs and its impact on psychosocial competence in youth.
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http://books.google.com/books/about/Social_learning_theory.html?id=IXvuAAAMAAJ Chandra, A., & Batada, A. (2006). Exploring stress and coping among urban african american adolsecents: The shift the lens study. Preventing Chronic Disease, 3(2), Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/pcd/issues/2006/apr/pdf/05_0174.pdf
Clark, A.T. (2006) Coping with interpersonal stress and psychosocial health among children and adolescents: a meta-analysis. Journal of Youth and Adolescence 35(1) 11-24. Perry, C.L., Kelder, S.H. (1992). Models of effective Prevention. Journal of Adolescent Health. 13 (5), 355-363.
Terzian, M., Moore, K., & Nguyen, H. (2010). Assessing stress in children and youth: a guide for out-of-school time program practitioners. Children Trends, 201(22). Retrieved from: http://www.childtrends.org/Files/Child_Trends-2010_10_05_RB_AssessingStress.pdf Tyler, F. B. (1993). Individual psychosocial competence: A personality configuration. Education & Psychological Measurements, 38(2), 309-323.
World Health Organization. (1997). Partners in life skills education. Retrieved from: http://www.who.int/mental_health/media/en/30.pdf
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