Have you felt lost as an educator wanting to help your students who struggle with anxiety? Do you find it difficult to assist these students as effectively as possible?
Most teachers will likely instruct students who struggle with anxiety at some point. It can feel overwhelming and potentially frustrating to assist these students, especially with the responsibility educators have in the development of children. To help protect student and teacher mental health, having an understanding of how to help students who may be struggling will help both parties. According to Nemours' Kids Health, anxiety induced by school stressors often causes students to miss class and avoid going to school. Digital mental health programs can assist the undertaking by giving both students and teachers tools for calming down, deescalating, and handling intense feelings. If you have students who struggle with anxiety, it's important to create a learning environment that makes students feel safe and calm. Here are five ways you can do that:
In order to understand what a student is going through, it is important to understand what their symptoms may be. For example, students may have panic/anxiety attacks in class and understanding what may have triggered that can help to prevent future anxiety. Knowing the common symptoms of anxiety or panic attacks can help students feel safer and less anxious in the classroom. The CDC’s description of anxiety and depression in children is a great place to start.
2. Foster a safe place for students to get to know each other and you.
Feeling alone in stressful moments only makes those situations harder to get through. Students will continue to feel this way unless they are able to develop relationships with you or with their peers. This means that by incorporating more team-based learning and moments for social interactions, you can help to prevent this lonely feeling. Planning group learning into your curriculum is a great way to introduce this in your classroom. This also offers more opportunity for you to develop trusting relationships with your students. If your students trust you, they will be far more open to discussing how they are feeling in your class.
3. Offer ways to get out nervous energy in the classroom.
It is hard to ask students to sit at a desk for hours at a time. Unexpended nervous energy can result in more distraction and inability to focus for students who struggle with anxiety and nervousness. For example, having small fidget tools or bounce-ball chairs in the class helps to get some of this energy out. This also helps students with attention disorders to have non-distracting, constant stimulation during class. This will help those students to focus better without distracting themselves or classmates.
4. Start the conversation around mental health.
Students will not feel comfortable discussing their nervous feelings and anxiety most of the time. It is important to create an environment where it is okay to discuss these feelings. Abolishing the stigma in your classroom will create a more open conversation about it and make students feel included. When a student feels represented, they are much more likely to be open and engaging in class. A book about stress and anxiety can be a great way to incorporate these discussions naturally.
Encouraging students to understand their mental health, especially at a young age, will benefit them for their whole life. This form of learning, in tandem with teaching empathy, creates a much safer environment for everyone. Students cannot learn if they do not feel safe and included. It is only possible to achieve this environment of safety if students are able to understand themselves and others. Implementing SEL in the classroom doesn't have to be a daunting task. Digital mental health tools make it easy to help students learn tools that work best for them to calm down and feel safe in their own head.
Digital mental health programs allow students access to the tools necessary to help their own health and to understand it. These digital programs, such as Neolth, give these tools to students and educators alike. Being an educator is stressful, so it is important for you to also have tools to calm down and cope with stressors of all kinds. Neolth is a digital stress and mental health support program for students and teachers. We’re on a mission to help you stress less, build resilience, and become a part of our compassionate community. Our app helps when you are feeling overwhelmed with self-guided content, personalized for your mental health journey. Neolth works with schools to improve access to mental health support for their students and teachers. You can learn more at neolth.com or sign up today at cloud.neolth.com.
This article was written by Neolth's Editorial intern, Gavin Schmidt.
Gavin Schmidt (he/him) is a sophomore at the University of Central Florida studying Digital Media with a concentration in Game Design. After seeing how mental health can affect the people he cares about, he began to have a passion for understanding and taking care of the mind. He believes that understanding this can greatly increase anyone's quality of life, and assisting people in their journey is greatly rewarding. Outside of school, Gavin is an active student leader in UCF's Marching Knights Marching Band, and enjoys playing board and video games with his friends and family.