Coaching manual to help UAE teenagers deal with stress

The Press Play book has been written by Linda Bonnar, a former sixth form tutor and history teacher at Jumeirah College, Dubai.

DUBAI // A former teacher at a Dubai college has penned a self-help book to aid teenagers struggling with mental health issues and to give parents an insight into the sometimes secret world of young people.

Press Play, by Linda Bonnar, a former sixth form tutor and history teacher at Jumeirah College, was written after speaking with pupils about the issues and stresses they face at school.

“A few months ago I got in touch with my old sixth formers I used to teach and young people I’ve worked with as a coach from all over the place,” said Ms Bonar.

“I asked them to help me identify real-life issues that they experienced or were still experiencing. The response I got was fantastic.”

The book is split into four main sections covering personal, family, friends and school life. The major topics covered include self-esteem, self-confidence, bullying, body image, communication skills, motivation and goal-setting.

The students also gave insight into dealing with negative thoughts, career choices, peer pressure and their own views on what constitutes mental health.

It comes with a 30-day journal so readers can monitor their own experiences to detail their personal development.

“Because it’s a coaching book, I provide a lot of food for thought by posing certain questions to the reader and providing space for them to then write their answers and keep a record of their thoughts at the time,” Mrs Bonnar, who now works as a life coach in Dubai, said.

“I’m not a medical professional, psychologist or psychiatrist of any kind, and as such won’t be dealing with that side of things in the book.”

The Varkey Foundation educational charity and GEMS education recently questioned more than 20,000 children from different countries to assess their confidence, optimism and friendships as part of the Global Citizenship Survey of Generation Z.

Poor mental well-being was the major cause of concern for those aged 15 to 21. Of those surveyed, 46 per cent said they felt pressured at school and less than a third said they had good emotional well-being.

Katie Meneely, is director and academic head of Naviture, a leadership programme supporting teenagers to become capable, confident and competent individuals.

“There is an increased pressure to achieve, overloaded with work with little downtime to relax,” she said.

“Coaching works to give balance, reduce stress and create an environment where the young adult feels in control.”

Press Play will be released on Saturday and will cost Dh110. It can be ordered by emailing or by visiting