Older generations, or those from more traditional backgrounds, may think that stress is a luxury for African women and girls. They have always worked hard and their mothers and grandmothers worked hard. Hard work is a fact of life. The fact that many of the young women and girls we work with face adversity doesn’t mean they don’t face stress. In fact, if their mothers took the time, they would probably see that they too are stressed. You can use these questions to help your mentee see whether she is stressed, and help her think about how to find more balance and cope with it. 

Stress impacts women and girls’ physical and mental health, and can have long-term consequences. We might think that stress is good for young people – it pushes them to ‘harden up’ and become stronger. But the evidence shows that consistently high levels of stress are very damaging. 

Before discussing stress with your mentee, look at these resources. Whilst it’s true that they come from a Western perspective, the scientific insights are universal: 

Stress | The Children’s Society (

Toxic Stress: How the Body’s Response Can Harm a Child’s Development (

Women and Stress (

Questions for your mentees: 

  • What causes me stress?
  • When I am stressed, my body reacts by: 
  • My emotions are: 
  • My mind feels: 

How we respond to stress

When we are stressed, we can make good choices or bad choices. Discuss your mentee’s answers to the questions above and how she reacts. 

What would she like to change? Can she think about this in the context of her goals?

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