CRSM Counselor Teaches Students “The Science of Happiness”
February 17, 2023

The teen years are a time for young people to have a healthy start in life. Yet national statistics report a sharp increase in sadness in high school students, especially amongst teen girls.

At CRSM, students are learning “The Science of Happiness,” which models a Yale class that was created to redefine happiness and give students the tools to create protective relationships and redefine happiness. This six- week course aims to curb the teenage mental health crisis by bringing together the best insights from Dr. Laurie Santos’ popular Yale course “Psychology and the Good Life.” A recent survey found that 37% of teens say they have poor mental health. The goal:  for students to feel better and build healthier habits.

Each Tuesday at the 11:40 a.m. lunch period CRSM, students (and some staff) grab their lunches and head to the science lab. There, counselor Christina Dippold is leading a six-week “crash course” designed to help students be happy in the moment and not just when they reach a goal or accomplishment. With videos, handouts, and exercise prompts (and serving homemade chocolate chip cookies and Valentine’s Day candy) Christina is hoping to help students develop strategies about how to be happier, how to feel less stressed, and how to thrive in high school and beyond. There is also a remote option for students via this link.

“I love that this course provides the opportunity for students to hear lectures from a Yale professor and to learn about recent research in psychology,” said Christina. “Several videos focus specifically on the negative impact of phones and social media, and Dr. Santos offers specific strategies for monitoring how to use them in healthier ways.  There are so many great take-aways for teens to use in their daily lives that can help improve mental health and overall wellness.”

According to new CDC data released earlier this month, nearly 3 in 5 (57%) U.S. teen girls felt persistently sad or hopeless in 2021—double that of boys, representing a nearly 60% increase and the highest level reported over the past decade.

Christina explained that “our minds trick us about the things that make us happy, but many of these intuitions are ‘… not exactly right – or are deeply misguided’. That’s why we get it wrong. I know this stuff, but my instincts are totally wrong.”

“The course is designed to help students be happy now and not only when they reach a goal,” she said. “We think there are things that will make us so much happier, like getting cool stuff, going on trips or going to Woodfield Mall and buying the cutest shorts for $60, yet they don’t make us as happy as we expect.”