What is anxiety?
Anxiety is a feeling of unease we experience when faced with moments of stress, worry or fear. A situation may arise that we find stressful or have some apprehension about; our brains begin assessing the risks. This activates the ‘fight, flight and faint’ response in our brains, which promotes the release of cortisone giving us that tingly, butterfly feeling in our bodies. We can also experience a similar feeling during moments of excitement. It is normal to have such feelings, particularly when starting a new school, moving house, changes in friendship groups and family relationships. These feelings can be made more prevalent during hormonal changes and puberty.
When do I know if I am suffering from anxiety?
When the feeling of anxiousness begins to affect how you behave and how you think every day, and begins to interfere with school, home and your social life.
What can the signs be in a young person?
• finding it hard to concentrate
• not sleeping, or waking in the night with bad dreams
• not eating properly
• quickly getting angry or irritable, and being out of control during outbursts
• constantly worrying or having negative thoughts
• feeling tense and fidgety, or using the toilet often
• always crying
• being clingy
• complaining of tummy aches and feeling unwell
How can I support a young person that is anxious?
If you have noticed changes that make you think your friend or child may be experiencing anxiety, it is important to talk to them about their feelings and worries. This is not always easy, and many young people find it uncomfortable and do not know where to start. But giving the young person the space to talk and offering a loving ear is an important beginning.
There may be a time when, as the listening ear, you become aware that you may need to seek some support. This would be when:
• it's not getting better, or is getting worse
• self-help isn't working
• it's affecting their school or family life, or their friendships
Where or who do I go to for support?
At Rooks Heath, we would always encourage you to speak to a member of staff, who may have already noticed some changes. This could be a Form Tutor, Head of Year, Student Support Hub or Safeguarding Team. By knowing your experience of the issues, we can make an informed decision in signposting to the most relevant support. We can also discuss what we can offer in terms of in-school support; this may be Mindfulness sessions, Friendship Groups, Mentoring and other tailored interventions. We are student centred and hope to provide the most conducive environment for all our students, where ever they find themselves, to enable them to flourish.
We would also encourage you to visit the family GP. It is important to acknowledge that a young person may feel more comfortable talking about their problem with their GP on their own, and this could be an important beginning to moving forward. They could conversely find it difficult speaking to their GP, and so it may be helpful to go to the appointment with a letter or list they can put together beforehand, describing what they are experiencing. Seeking any help is a massive step, and needs to welcomed with openness, acceptance and understanding.
Useful Contacts and Further Information
• The Anxious Child is a booklet providing information for parents and carers wanting to know more about anxiety in children and young people.
• CS@rooksheath.harrow.sch.uk Rooks Heath Safeguarding Team email address.
• StudentSupportHub@rooksheath.harrow.sch.uk Rooks Heath Student Support Team email address.
• https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/anxiety-disorders -in-children/
• https://www.kooth.com A free, anonymous and confidential counselling service.
• Childline: 0800 1111
• https://www.thecalmzone.net/help/get-help/ Call: 0800 58 58 58
• Books to read:
‘Be Calm: Proven Techniques’ – this book dives into the science behind anxiety and your emotions
‘Retrain Your Brain: Cognitive Therapy’ – this book is an introduction into CBT and techniques to practise and use.
‘10% Happier: How I Tamed the Voice’ – this book teachers the art of meditation for sceptics to practise inner peace.
Dare: The New Way to End Anxiety’ – this book advocates facing your fears, anxieties, worries and stress.
‘How to be Yourself’ – another CBT book that helps with social fears.
‘Don’t Feed the Monkey Mind’ – this book focuses on understanding how our brains work and to look at how we can rewire our brains to manage anxiety in a different way.