7 resources to help educators better understand anxiety

Mental illness is omnipresent in schools today, but it isn’t as well understood or managed as districts would hope. An October 2018 Education Week article stated that, according to the National Institute of Mental Health, approximately 32 percent of adolescents have an anxiety disorder. This means that in a classroom of 24, eight students will suffer from clinical anxiety.

The difference between nervousness and anxiety

Often confused with nervousness, anxiety is believed to be a circumstantial, temporary feeling of worry that with coaching, breathing, and self-talk can be easily overcome. Unfortunately, although some iterations of anxiety present in such a fashion, most are generalized, overwhelming, and debilitating. Anxiety has triggers, which students can choose to work to avoid with strategies and support, but the existence of anxiety is not a choice.

Anxiety is a physiological imbalance in the brain, one that pumps too much serotonin through the nervous system. Although many of the things that provoke a student’s anxiety can be controlled, the onset of panic that comes from provocation cannot be regulated without professional interventions, medications, therapy, and/or counseling.…Read More

5 things to say to students suffering from anxiety

[Editor’s note: Don’t miss our companion piece, “5 things to avoid saying to students suffering from anxiety.”]

Understanding anxiety is something that educators, parents, doctors, therapists, students, sufferers, and non-sufferers are still working on. Just like anything else we attempt to understand, we will never get there if we don’t, first, ask questions.

Yesterday, I explored five things I’ve heard and/or experienced being said to students suffering from anxiety that miss the mark in being supportive. Although parents, guardians, counselors, classmates, staff, and friends have great intentions, their comments are rarely productive. The statements they make are often judgmental and ignorant. The negative impact of saying the wrong thing to a student with anxiety might seem minimal—it’s supposed to be the thought that counts—but the long-term effects can be severe.…Read More