A recent on-line poll revealed that 42% of the teenagers hardly seek help when they feel besieged. According to the researchers, 1 in every 5 teens, who reported the maximum level of stress, resort to drugs or alcohol instead of seeking parents' help to manage stress. On the contrary, these teens say that parents are the main cause of stress.
"It's too high a percentage of teens that, for whatever reason, are not seeking help when they need it," Dr. Patricia McDougall, a psychology professor at the University of Saskatchewan and one of the lead researchers of the study.
Over 1000 teenagers and 460 parents from across the country took part in the on-line survey. Friends were the best confidants for 67% of the teens while their mothers were for 60% of them and fathers for 32 % of them.
"The kids that do routinely ask for help, report that they get help almost every time. It's just a matter of going out there and getting it," Dr. McDougall said.
The survey reveals that teens feel comfortable to talk about several once-taboo subjects to their parents. Around 50% of them are at ease talking about bullying/harassment, drugs and alcohol to their parents. While, only 25% were comfortable talking about sex.
Most of the causes of stress for teens are known. According to the survey, the cause of stress was school for 69%, money for 24% and physique for 24%.
Surprisingly, parents also predicted the school to be the largest source of stress for teens, succeeded by physique (25%) and self-esteem (22%).
According to the study, the rise in stress resulted in predictable behavioural changes. This led to eating more in over 40% of the teens and turning to alcohol or drugs in 10 % of them. Embarrassment and fear of judgment or punishment are the main reasons according to teens for not talking openly with their parents. According to Dr. McDougall, it is essential for parents to develop an open relationship with their teens.
Dr. McDougall said, " The study suggests that support is needed for programs run in schools, where most of the stress is accumulated, to give kids an outlet. The majority of teens and parents say that the most meaningful conversations are held at the dinner table, in the car or before bed."
"The implication is that we need to nurture those times," she said.