s I travel across the North American Division, I get asked the question by administrators, “How can we help students who are dealing with anxiety?” Before the COVID-19 pandemic, children and teens were battling with anxiety. During the pandemic, those numbers grew significantly. Some mental health professionals I have talked with believe that post-pandemic, the numbers will continue to increase. Children and teens dealing with anxiety now face pre- and post-pandemic stressors.
The pandemic lockdown and social distancing disrupted children and adolescents' social interactions and caused them to live in fear and isolation. Now that we are all trying to find our new normal, children and teens are still experiencing pressure from different angles. Interestingly, many children and teens deal with perfectionism, one of the leading causes of anxiety. Social media has not helped our teens experience peace. On the contrary, social media has caused teens tremendous stress. In addition, there is social bullying, and one’s perceived physical flaws can cause immense distress in teens.
The problem we face as educators is that many students who show signs of anxiety are not getting the professional help they need. They come to school exhibiting symptoms of anxiety without an official diagnosis, which leaves the classroom teacher trying to figure out how to help students. Remember that our role as educators is not to diagnose mental health conditions, including ADHD, but to guide parents in getting appropriate help for their children.
On a positive note, children and adolescents can get treatment for anxiety. This can make a tremendous difference in their daily life and at school. The goal is to give students practical tools to help them reduce daily pressure. To begin a meaningful conversation with parents on how to find help for their children, visit our North American Division Educators’ Mental Health Training Toolkit and click on “How to Support Families.”
Evelyn Sullivan, M.Ed.
Director of Early Childhood Education and R.E.A.C.H.
Evelyn Sullivan is the Director of Early Childhood Education for North American Division. She spent many years teaching young children to love to learn. She has combined her passion for teaching and administration to promote the importance of early childhood education.
Anxiety Is on the Rise
The problem we face as educators is that many students who show signs of anxiety are not getting the professional help they need.
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