Anxiety is a feeling of uneasiness or fear that, in many situations, is normal to experience – however when you feel this way most of the time it can be debilitating and massively impact how you function on a day-to-day basis.
As adults, it can be incredibly difficult to identify and manage anxiety. So, just imagine what it feels like for a child who is struggling with anxiety themselves.
What factors put children more at risk of anxiety?
While anxiety can arise for seemingly no reason, there are some situations that more often lead to children developing anxiety:
- Substance abuse
- Divorce or difficult home situation (e.g., frequent arguments between parents)
- Moving house or school
- Pre-existing conditions such as ADHD or autism
Signs of anxiety in children
With children spending seven hours a day at school, here are some signs of anxiety that teachers should look out for:
- Difficulty concentrating
- Poor performance
- Feeling tired
- Change in eating habits
- Easily angered or irritated
- Frequent toilet visits
- Constant worrying and negative thoughts
- Complaining of physical pain like stomach aches and headaches
- Emotional outbursts (e.g., crying or tantrums)
- Being clingy
- Disruptive behaviour
What to do if a child in your class has anxiety
- Have someone in the school start a conversation with them – preferably a teacher or teaching assistant with mental health first aid or ELSA training
- Talk openly about anxiety in the classroom to reduce the stigma around mental health – you can use our Sock It To Stigma classroom materials to help you
- Talk to the child’s parents and refer them to professional support if appropriate
According to the latest research, one in six UK school children have a probable mental health disorder. Aside from parents, teachers are the adults that children spend most of their time with during the day. It is crucial that anyone who works with children can recognise the signs that a child may be struggling with their mental health and, more importantly, that they know how to take appropriate action. But with no compulsory mental health training, this task can feel overwhelming and difficult.
Our Headucation 2025 campaign aims to train 150,000 teachers in the basics of mental health support by 2025. Your school could be eligible for fully-funded mental health training. Get in touch with our team to find out more.