Program helps stressed teens shake it off

23 Jun 2017
teen listening to music
Research shows that on average young people listen to 18 hours of music a week.

For high school students suffering from academic anxiety, Taylor Swift or Kanye West might be just what they need to alleviate stress.

An intervention designed by University of Queensland's School of Psychology teaches teenagers how to use their own music listening habits as a way of managing emotions and achieving their best in school.

Dr Genevieve Dingle has developed the group program with Masters student Rachael Harris.

Research shows that on average young people listen to 18 hours of music a week, which enhances their emotional, cognitive and psychological well-being,” Dr Dingle said.

“The Tuned In Academic program helps teens discover the types of music that are good for increasing motivation, decreasing anxiety, and improving focus among listeners.

“It is designed to help high school students in years 10 to 12 manage their anxiety about exams and other academic emotions, such as post-result depression and rumination.”

Mission Australia’s 2016 survey of 21,846 young people, aged 15-19 years found that the top two issues of concern were coping with stress and school or study problems.

Around four in 10 respondents indicated they were “extremely concerned” or “very concerned” about coping with stress and school or study problems.

“Anxious students worry about their performance, which takes their concentration away from the task at hand, such as assignment writing and exams, resulting in performance levels lower than their capabilities would predict,” Dr Dingle said.

Tuned In Academic has been adapted from Dr Dingle’s Tuned In program which builds emotional awareness and regulation among both at-risk and mainstream adolescents.

“From Tuned In we learnt that young people feel comfortable sharing their music and can easily learn the emotion self-regulation strategies in the program.

“Tuned In Academic aims to extend these strategies to deal with emotions such as anxiety and stress that can get in the way of young people’s learning and memory.”

Dr Dingle said the initial results from Tuned In Academic were encouraging, and the program’s effectiveness would be known by the end of the year.

The next round of Tuned In Academic begins in July, with five weekly group sessions on Saturdays or after school on Wednesdays or Thursdays. Interested participants can contact project coordinator Amy Walker, or 0409 957 664.

Media: Dr Genevieve Dingle,, +61 7 3365 7295, Twitter @Genevieve132; Dani Nash, UQ Communications,, +61 7 3346 3035, Twitter @UQhealth.