7 Ways Teachers Can Help Students With Anxiety
I am here to write a letter offering advice on how to help students who struggle with anxiety and panic attacks. I’ve been in the same position as they have. Trust me when I say it’s not easy to deal with. So many people are under the false assumption that anxiety is a cry for attention or a “fake” issue. Neither are usually the case. In fact, anxiety is a very scary condition and often times support is greatly needed and appreciated.
Please, take some time to read over these suggestions on how to help those who have anxiety and panic attacks. Thank you!
1. If you see someone who appears anxious, ask what’s wrong and what you can do to help.
Each individual struggles with anxiety in different ways and not every method has the same results. The best way to know how to help someone is to ask.
2. Don’t force someone to do something just because you think it will help.
Because everyone deals with anxiety in different ways, some methods may be helpful to some but not to others. Therefore, the best thing to do if someone says that something won’t help them is to find another way to help.
Here’s an example: I was once told over and over again to drink water to make myself feel better. I told the individual that it wouldn’t help, but they practically forced me to drink the water. This honestly just made me more anxious!
3. Be understanding, and don’t make us feel like we’re being a nuisance.
This also applies to school nurses. I can’t tell you how many times I was made to feel like I was a burden in high school because of my anxiety. The school nurse made it like I was faking it. Every time I went to see her, I felt her eyes rolling at me. Having anxiety is a legitimate issue. We don’t enjoy it. So please, don’t act like we do!
4. Talk to us!
Ask us how we’re doing. Check in. You don’t have to ask 24/7, but once in awhile, see how we’re doing. Sometimes getting our feelings of our chest makes us feel better and helps us know we are supported.
5. Don’t talk down to us, patronize us or treat us like we’re silly.
It’s hard enough going through something that’s so misunderstood, let alone being treated like we’re insane or childish. In my opinion, it’s crucial that teachers try to understand what their students are going through. I had so many teachers who showed me a great deal of respect. It was these teacher who made a real difference in my life.
6. Share your own issues with us and help us feel less alone.
Be honest and if you have similar experiences with anxiety, share them with us. I had a teacher who told me about one of his fears and honestly, it helped. By sharing something he went through, he helped me realize I wasn’t alone and that it was possible to get through what I was going through. I also knew there were people who cared for me.
7. If a student has to leave school due to anxiety, then don’t make them feel guilty.
In high school, I left school several times due to my anxiety. I always felt awful. Additionally, there were times when school officials or the school nurse made me feel guilty about leaving because I wasn’t physically sick.
Anxiety is a very difficult issue to deal with. People who go to school and deal with anxiety have to try extremely hard to get through the day and sometimes, anxiety makes it seem like an impossible task. However, with the help and support from teachers and staff, students can feel supported and get through school with a sense of accomplishment.