Addressing Student Anxiety: Strategies For Promoting Mental Well-being At School

Anxiety being prevalent among school kids, it is important to address it. Read this article to understand how schools can promote mental well being.

Most of the time, anxiety sows its seeds in childhood. Pressure of studies, fulfilling parents’ expectations, comparison with other kids, bullying, pressure of meeting societal expectations, peer pressure, and so on. It can affect children’s social functions, academics, and may also ignite other mental health problems at the developmental stage.

If not addressed on time, these anxieties may grow into major mental health issues leading to huge damage in the personality, nature, behavioural patterns and so on. Under confidence and self-disrespect can be other factors which might lead to major problems in the long run.

Anxiety is a prevalent mental health concern among children and adolescents. As per the NCERT Survey, nearly 81% of Indian school students experiencing mental health issues and around 1 in 5 students meet the criteria for an anxiety disorder.

To understand anxiety in school children and how to address it, OnlyMyHealth interacted with Vahbiz Kerawalla Psychologist and School Counselor at Jasudben ML School.

Anxiety In Students

Kerawalla said, “Anxiety manifests as a persistent state of fear, worry, or rumination, trapping individuals in a cycle without adequate resources to navigate through it. Students often feel overwhelmed by a sense of powerlessness regarding past, present, and future events, leading to difficulties in managing daily activities and maintaining productivity.”

Explaining the symptoms of anxiety in children, Kerawalla said, “Anxiety symptoms vary widely, ranging from avoiding eye contact to exam anxiety, sudden mood changes, irritability, sadness, appetite changes, sleep disturbances, bodily complaints, fatigue, difficulty focusing, class participation reluctance, absenteeism, and in severe cases, self-harm or suicidal thoughts.”

Strategies For Mental Well-being At School

A lot of students suffer from fear of asking questions, scoring less marks, getting scolded, and lacking confidence. This can discourage them and ignite anxiety while doing or from doing any of the above. It is important for schools to take initiative in making children comfortable and address their mental health issues. Here are some strategies by Kerawalla, for schools to address student anxiety.

1. School Culture

It is crucial to build a positive and accepting learning environment for children to feel heard and safe irrespective of their academic performance. “Giving students a choice to select and complete assessments and tests based on the level of difficulty, accommodating late submissions and delays from students,” Kerawalla said.

2. Teacher Support

As teachers are the first responders, starting training programs and providing support to teachers in recognising signs of anxiety or emotional distress in students can help. Initiating mental health education programs to teach students emotional regulation, stress management and coping skills, Kerawalla said.

3. Peer To Peer Support

Kerawalla said, “Buddy systems where students can relate and support each other in their academic journeys. School Resources of inhouse psychologists and special educators to address and support the individual needs of students.”

4. Mindfulness Practices

Inculcating mindfulness practices at the beginning of class to help students regulate and be prepared more present and focussed for the class. “Teaching them 54321 exercise can be of great help. “Five things you can see, four things you can hear, three things you can touch, two things you can smell and one thing you can taste to help them regroup.”

5. Additional Support

Partnering with psychiatrists and other professionals or nutritionists to handle extreme cases of anxiety and absenteeism. Offering parent training and support groups for families to create a nurturing environment.

With these strategies, schools can create a supportive and inclusive environment where students feel empowered to manage their anxiety, leading to improved attendance and overall mental well-being while also raising emotionally resilient and happy adults.

This article appeared in Only My Health on 25th April 2024


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