Anxiety disorders are one of the most common mental health problems, and they are thought to affect up to 19% of children and young people across the UK. They affect people both physically and emotionally, and can make children feel panicked, scared or even ashamed. Anxiety disrupts children and young people’s development, and their ability to build relationships and access education.
More and more children are arriving at school distracted and distressed – if they arrive at all. Severe absence has soared by 134% compared to pre-pandemic levels, and more than a quarter of all children now regularly miss school (Lost and Not Found report, March 2023).
Today marks the beginning of Mental Health Awareness Week run by the Mental Health Foundation, and this year’s theme is anxiety. The awareness week encourages people to share their own experiences, alongside ideas or strategies they use to manage their anxiety.
It is crucial that we provide effective support for children and young people that struggle with anxiety so that they can thrive in education and live happy, healthy lives.
Children and young people facing mental health problems such as anxiety often struggle to engage with mainstream education. They may be withdrawn and isolated, or display hugely challenging and disruptive behaviour that significantly affects those around them. Teachers need support to create safe environments that enable pupils to develop the confidence and resilience they need to succeed both academically and in life.
One of the Six Principles of Nurture is to offer a safe base. Whether this be a dedicated nurture room or mainstream classroom, the environment should be a warm and inviting space that helps children and young people to feel calm and ready to learn. It is vital for staff to be reliable and consistent in their approach to children, modelling positive relationships with each other and the children and young people.
Nurture rooms often have quiet zones or comfy areas that reflect a home. Nurture groups are designed to address children’s social and emotional needs, enabling them to better manage their anxiety. When pupils feel safe in the nurture group and in school, they are able to enjoy school more and this can have a positive impact on their school attendance.
Throughout this week, we’ll be sharing a range of advice and tips to help support children and young people to manage their anxiety. Be sure to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or LinkedIn to access the resources to enable all children and young people to gain the education they deserve.