Toxic Stress

Today, we want to give you some signs to look for in your student that may indicate that they are dealing with toxic stress. Toxic stress is more severe than “everyday” stress, because of the powerful connection between toxic stress and the prevalence of social, physical, and emotional health problems in those that experience it.

As mentors, we need to be aware of the symptoms of toxic stress in a student’s life. They typically include one or more of the following symptoms:

  • physical complaints, like a stomachache or headache
  • constant worry about danger, or about the safety of loved ones
  • signs of depression – withdrawal, lack of enjoyment in favorite activities
  • difficulty paying attention, concentrating, or learning
  • outbursts of anger – toward others or toward themselves
  • refusal to follow rules
  • use of violence to get their way
  • bullying or aggression toward others
  • rebellion
  • risky behaviors – driving dangerously, dangerous “tricks”
  • seeking revenge
  • lashing out
  • abrupt changes in relationships – friends
  • belief in stereotypes- males are aggressors, females are victims

So, what can we do when we see the signs of toxic stress in our students? And, how can we help every student deal with “everyday” stress in a positive way? Check back next Monday for some practical ways you can help students deal with stress.

-Jason Matthews, BTO Mentor Coach