As educators, increasing your awareness of the impact of anxiety is important for supporting your students and yourself. This section is designed to assist you in becoming more knowledgeable about how anxiety presents in students in a school setting.
Is my student struggling with an anxiety disorder?
Anxiety is useful in certain situations, some of the time. But how can educators know when a student may be struggling with an anxiety disorder? In some cases, it may be obvious. For example, a young student who still cries and clings to their parent each morning at drop-off and is repeatedly tearful for the first hour of each day. Or a student who lost a loved one and now withdraws from others, has difficulty concentrating, is jumpy, and skips class. Or a student that spends 30+ minutes in the bathroom several times a day and has red, chapped, bleeding hands. These are more obvious examples of anxiety disorders in the classroom.
However, anxiety can be an invisible disorder, not always noted by the busy educator. For example, a student who is performing below their capacity, is late to school most days, and is reluctant to read out loud in class.
Or a child who is known as a “dream student”, but secretly spends 6+ hours daily doing homework to perfection, has trouble sleeping due to fear of failure, and refuses to engage in any non-educational activities for fear it will rob them of essential learning opportunities. These students also struggle with anxiety disorders.
Students spend between 25+ hours in school each week. As a teacher or administrative staff, you’re in a position to play an essential role in identifying and assisting students with unwanted anxiety.
The first step is to learn how anxiety disorders look for students within a classroom setting. Specialists have identified that when a child or teen experiences anxiety more often (most days/ for months at a time) and more intensely than their peers of the same age, it’s more likely that they have an anxiety disorder.
The frequent and intense symptoms that students with anxiety disorders encounter can create significant disruption in their lives, interrupting or even stopping a student from participating in various typical school-based experiences, such as:
- Attending classes and school on a daily basis
- Completing assignments
- Joining social, athletic or recreational clubs
- Making friends
- Participating in class
Bring ACTION ANXIETY DAY into your classroom the week of June 5-10. Let’s create awareness about anxiety and educate kids with tools that work! Our educational toolkit is ideal for educating Grades K-7.
If you believe a student is experiencing symptoms of anxiety that are excessive, intense, and disruptive, we advise that you begin by consulting with your school counselor or principal.
Once you have done this, you may consider scheduling a meeting with the student and/or their family to gather more information, and to provide resources such as the MindShift CBT app or My Anxiety Plan (MAP).
You can also use The CARD™ system (Comfort, Ask, Relax, Distract), a science-based, proven framework to help prepare your students for stressful events, like school-based vaccinations, presentations, and examinations. A free CARD™ Toolkit for Educators is available for download here.
Help students recognize anxiety in their lives with our ‘Caretoons‘ animated series, a fun and educational way to introduce mental health topics to your class. Using humour and heart, Drexal the alien and Chris Crust the time-travelling pizza slice give students a chance to learn about their mental health and know that it’s okay to feel anxious. These short, entertaining animations help students to learn coping techniques and realize that they can ask for help.
Featured Downloadable Resources for Educators
How To Do Progressive Muscle Relaxation
Download this helpful resource to learn how to use progressive muscle relaxation as a tool for coping with anxiety.
How To Address Test Anxiety
Exam anxiety can cause students to "go blank," become frustrated, or doubt their intellectual abilities. This test anxiety booklet helps students and parents better understand exam anxiety and offers methods to help students cope with test anxiety and succeed in their courses. Students should read this booklet carefully, consider which aspects of test anxiety applies to them, then identify coping strategies that may help address the anxiety.
Featured Resources for Educators
Normalize Youth Anxiety with Our Caretoons Animated Series
Let’s get youth to open up about anxiety with two animated series that they can relate to. Caretoons not only make us laugh but also start the conversation about mental health in teens’ everyday lives. With humour and heart, Caretoons normalize [...]View
Help a Child with Separation Anxiety using Caretoons
Our Caretoons series illustrates common anxiety challenges young people may face, using a fun format and entertaining characters. Our animated anxiety episodes can help youth and teens feel comfortable talking about anxiety. Children and teens can le[...]View
Our Caretoons Series Helps Kids Talk About Contamination OCD
Our Caretoons series offer a fun and safe way to talk to kids and teens about their anxiety, with entertaining characters who do their best but need support for their mental health. Both Caretoons series, Galaxy Brain and Time Travelling Pizza, intro[...]View
Talk to Youth About Social Anxiety with Caretoons
Our two Caretoons series are a unique resource for parents at home, educators in the classroom, or healthcare professionals. Using fun, animated characters the cartoon episodes introduce youth to different anxieties they may be experiencing. T[...]View
Understanding Isolation Impact with Caretoons
Our Caretoons series provides an easy and entertaining way to discuss different anxieties with children and youth in a safe and non-threatening way. With all of the challenges in the past few years surrounding COVID and isolation, young people may fe[...]View