Back to School Blues

With the beginning of a new school year underway, we hope that our children and teenagers have settled in well. New classes, new teachers, perhaps a new school, new challenges and demands. Developing new friendships or renewing older ones. Although it is perfectly normal to feel a sense of nervousness, for some it can be a time of crippling anxiety. Some young people are so affected by anxiety that they are unable to attend school altogether.

The statistics on young people and anxiety is sobering. One study found that children in England are among the unhappiest in the world. The survey was conducted by PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment) who found that the 15-year olds in the UK who partook ranked 38th out of 48 countries surveyed. Interestingly, the study also ranked UK 15-year olds higher than average when questioned on their feelings of anxiety over exams (71% compared to 55% on average worldwide). Also of interest were the results regarding time spent online (24% for UK teens compared to 16% on average worldwide).

The anxiety experienced by children and teenagers can be triggered by family crises, social pressures, exams or traumatic events like bullying. A comprehensive 2018 report on bullying published by Ditch That Label, the world’s largest anti-bullying support hub, found that of the 9,000 children (between the ages of 12 and 20) surveyed in the UK, 54% had been bullied at one time. Approximately 10% of children and teens are bullied daily. 60% of bullies are classmates. The effects can be devastating as bullying can impact a child’s studies, concentration, social life, self-esteem, happiness and confidence.

A Daily Telegraph article (1 December 2017) stated that the number of children aged 9 and under seeing a psychiatrist had risen by 31%. In it, Anne Longfield, the Children’s Commissioner for England, said that the number of children receiving treatment was just a “fraction” of the number who are in need of it.

Although the survey results are troubling, there are two things we should take away from this. First, if your child is suffering from anxiety and is overwhelmed by today’s demands and pressures, they are not alone. If your child is unable to speak to you about the problem, please encourage them to speak to a health care professional or an adult they trust. There are support groups and resources that are there to help, not just for children and teens, but for parents/caregivers as well. Second, becoming aware of the issue and staying informed helps us to recognise the signs of anxiety in our children, which in turn brings us one step closer to finding solutions.

Gabriella Ramos, Chief of Staff at the OECD (Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development) said this about children’s level of happiness, “There is no secret: you perform better if you feel valued, if you feel well treated, if you are given a helping hand to succeed.” With love, support, educating ourselves on the signs and symptoms and researching the resources available, we can help our children overcome anxiety, cope better and flourish.

By Elaina Curran, HPD, DSFH, AdvPLRT, Clinical Hypnotherapist and Past Life Regression Therapist

Published in BS35 Local Magazine, November 2018 issue



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