One of the most common student mental health conditions that secondary schools typically deal with is anxiety. In 2015, one in fourteen young Australians aged 4-17 experienced an anxiety condition. This is equivalent to approximately 278,000 young people.
Understanding anxiety in adolescence
Adolescence represents a period of elevated risk for mental health issues, largely because of the rapid biological, psychological and social changes taking place.
It’s normal for adolescents to feel anxious at times, for example they may worry about starting secondary school and about fitting in with their friends. The point that anxiety becomes a concern, is when the feelings are ongoing and are having a negative impact on a young person’s capacity to function in everyday situations.
An adolescent may be identified as having an anxiety condition if:
• their anxious feelings are consistently very intense
• persist well after the stressful event has passed
• and are distressing to the point that they interfere with the young person’s capacity to learn, socialise and do everyday things.
Young people experiencing anxiety may feel ‘on edge’ or worried most of the time. They might feel overwhelmed, frightened, dread or panic.
Some young people also experience a range of physical symptoms when they’re anxious – heart racing, butterflies in the stomach, muscle tension, shaking hands or nausea.
Types of anxiety
There are several different types of anxiety, each with unique characteristics. Some of the more common anxiety conditions include:
Young people living with this condition suffer severe and uncontrollable worry about multiple parts of their life. For example, they may worry excessively about being on time, doing well on tests, or keeping friendships.
Adolescents living with this condition have excessive worry about social situations and how others view them, for example, meeting unfamiliar people or giving a presentation. Adolescents with social anxiety may try to avoid social situations – which can include school.
Panic disorder is characterised by the sudden onset of symptoms including racing heart, sweating, shaking, trouble breathing and feeling as if something terrible is going to happen (article taken from mindmatters newsletter Feb 2018).
If you are concerned that your child is experiencing anxiety please contact a member of the wellbeing team for support.
Anna Shearman –Year 7- 9 Wellbeing co-ordinator
Travis Clark - Year 10-12 Wellbeing co-ordiantor
Paul Warsnop - Chaplain