CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. – It’s tough being a teenager. School performance, peer pressure, and relationships all present challenges during adolescence. To help teens deal with this stress, the state’s leading health insurer and one of Tennessee’s top universities have joined forces on a national study.

BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee and Vanderbilt University are participating in the Teens Achieving Mastery over Stress (TEAMS) research project, a study designed to determine how teens typically deal with everyday challenges. The study, sponsored by the National Institute of Mental Health, also evaluates whether teaching coping skills to teens helps them manage stress, gain control of their moods and avoid depression.

According to the World Health Organization, depression is the number one cause of disability, making it a major health concern for everyone.

“Depression is a serious health problem, but one that can be treated and even prevented,” said Dr. Steve Coulter, senior vice president and chief medical officer for BlueCross. “Since rates of depression typically rise during the transition through adolescence, it’s important to teach teens how to cope with their feelings early on to help make them healthy adults.”

TEAMS is a confidential, voluntary and free program. Evaluations for the adolescent are free and participating families receive $400 for completing all assessments over the course of the study. The study does not affect the parents’ or child’s regular medical care.

Families in the Nashville area are needed for the study. Children must be between the ages of 13 and 17 years of age to participate. Because health problems in family members can increase stress in the household, the study is particularly interested in families in which at least one parent has had depression.

To participate in the program, or for more information, call Sharon Doyle, RN, with BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee at (615) 386-8504. Or call Vanderbilt University at (615) 343-4141.

About Vanderbilt University

Vanderbilt University is a comprehensive research university in Nashville, Tennessee, providing innovative programs, state-of-the-art facilities and a supportive environment for interdisciplinary inquiry. The University comprises 10 schools, a public policy institute, a distinguished medical center and The Freedom Forum First Amendment Center. Vanderbilt offers undergraduate programs in the liberal arts and sciences, engineering, music, and education and human development, as well as a full range of graduate and professional degrees.

About BlueCross

BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee's mission is to provide its customers and communities with peace of mind through affordable solutions for health and healing, life and living. Founded in 1945, the Chattanooga-based company is focused on reinventing the health plan for its 3 million members in Tennessee and across the country. Through its integrated health management approach, BlueCross provides patient-centric products and services that drive health improvement and positively impact health care quality and value. BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee Inc. is an independent licensee of the BlueCross BlueShield Association. For more information, visit the company's website at www.bcbst.com.