Easing anxiety in students is vital to achievement
The start of a new school year can signal the onset of fears and worries for some students. When unchecked, these anxious thoughts may lead to problems in emotional adjustment and academic success.
At their worst, anxiety disorders may give rise to clinical depression and thoughts of suicide.
How much anxiety is “normal” for a child? Developmentally appropriate fears are a problem when they do not subside, but instead impair a child’s day-to-day functioning, say experts.
This was the case for Pinedale youth Garrett Bardin, who struggled with anxiety and perfectionism. Garrett died by suicide in 2008 when he was 23.
Schools and youth-serving organizations in Wyoming can help children grappling with anxiety disorders that can be performance, separation or social in nature. Studies show that children who are innately cautious, quiet and shy are more likely to develop anxiety disorder.
Adults can watch for signs of distress in children that could point to anxiety, and have the youngster seen by a clinician. The earlier children are evaluated, the better, say experts.
“Anxiety is so common, so well understood, that I think we should do more,” says David Shaffer, MD, an expert in youth suicide. “Schools can really help by building depression, anxiety, impulsivity into regular biology or health classes.”