Stress Reduction for Students

Fiona Jensen has brought a stress reduction program to Barnstable High School (BHS) in Massachusetts to positively impact students in a variety of ways. Bringing the program to BHS was Jensen’s project in the Landmark Education SELP program. The program intends to use mindful awareness to decrease stress, improve self-esteem and ultimately improve academic performance. The Cape Cod newspaper The Barnstable Patriot wrote the following story about the stress reduction program.

Stress Reduction Program Comes to BHS

by Kathleen Szmit

Tucked into a quiet corner on Industry Road in Marstons Mills is Cape Stress Reduction. It is a place where director Adam Liss teaches people Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction.

Such stress reduction allows people to better care for themselves and lead calmer, happier and healthier lives.

Now, thanks to the determination of an inspired Cotuit mom, Liss will be bringing a version of his program to Barnstable High School.

Beginning in the spring semester, students selected from the school’s Alternative Learning Program (ALP) will take part in a 20-week pilot program aimed at helping them develop self-management of reactivity and emotions by using mindfulness-based social and emotional practices.

Bringing the program to BHS was the idea of Fiona Jensen of Cotuit, a mother of three who has had two children graduate from BHS with one currently attending.

“For the last 15 years I’ve had teens in my house,” said Jensen. “I’ve watched them struggle.”

Jensen was no stranger to some of their struggles, having sought Liss’ assistance in dealing with some of her own issues around panic and anxiety.

While attending a Landmark Education summer program, Jensen was instructed to find within her community a project in which to put the skills she was learning to use.

Around that time the deaths of two former BHS students had a powerful impact on the community. With that in mind, Jensen came up with the idea of creating a stress reduction course at Barnstable High School.

“There has been a significant amount of loss in the Barnstable community,” she said. “I watched kids struggle with it, and there really wasn’t anything I could do.”

With Liss, Jensen created a curriculum designed for at-risk youth, aimed at encouraging mindful awareness of self that would ultimately lead to improvements in self-esteem and behavior and could positively impact their academic experience.

“We’re giving kids the skills and tools so that instead of being stuck in reactivity, they get to choose their behavior,” said Liss.

According to Liss, data shows that such mindfulness-based approaches work.

Students in such programs show more positive attitudes toward themselves and others and the school as a whole. Negative behaviors decrease, and reactions to emotional distress are less dramatic.

Academically, mindfulness-based programs have helped decrease tardiness and absenteeism, have positively impacted standardized test scores and have resulted in decreased disciplinary referrals.

To read the rest of the story and find out the 5k run fundraiser to benefit the program, visit the website of the Barnstable Patriot at


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1 comment

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