Becoming Aware of Anxiety in the Classroom
Bear with me as I give you a very superficial and hypothetical quiz. Which of these kids have anxiety?
- An 18-year-old college student states, “I’m totally freaked out about my philosophy test tomorrow.”
- A somber looking 4thgrader usually has his hands up in his sleeves and tends to stare at the floor.
- A chatty middle schooler is hanging out with her friends, but often leaves the group and runs away.
- A teacher asks in a class discussion, “What do you think, Aaron?” Aaron stares back and looks like he can’t breathe.
- A 3rdgrader has trouble staying in her seat and is constantly kicking the chair in front of her.
All of them do, and each one demonstrates a kind of symptom. And, it’s possible that none of them have been diagnosed with ananxiety disorder.
Confusing? Fair enough. The confusion and blurry lines around anxiety make it challenging to identify or diagnose.
We all have anxiety. Each of us has the capacity to get nervous to react both physically and emotionally in stressful situations. Our brains are naturally wired to experience the “flight, flight, or freeze” responses that protect us.
Not all of us have anxiety disorders, which identify as debilitating physical responses, and a pattern and frequency beyond what is expected with certain stressors. Anxiety disorders can be any of the following:
- Separation anxiety
- Social anxiety
- Selective mutism
- Generalized anxiety
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder
- Specific phobias
Mental health professionals and teachers will attest that anxiety disorders in students (in tandem with other mental health issues) are becoming more common.1 in 5 children are affected by anxiety.A recent Pew Research study indicated that 70% of students see anxiety and depression as a major issue among their peers. Add 24/7 online and media presence, and anxiety disorders become something that requires knowledge and strategies to manage.
Help for you comes in the dual form of a movie and a course. The company IndieFlix, driven by its social impact mission of “content with a purpose,” has created the award-winning film Angst: A Film About Anxiety, Truth, and Hope. Angst has been seen by hundreds of communities worldwide. The film validates what so many kids are going through and offers real strategies to treat the disorder. This film is the real deal!
Teaching Channel has teamed up with Indie Flix to use several clips and research from the film in a 3-credit, graduate-level continuing education course. Course 5102: Anxiety Awareness: Empowering Students with Help and Hope will allow education professionals to build a foundation of knowledge around anxiety disorders while sharing strategies and accommodation ideas to help students cope with and treat their disorder.
We are so happy to be a part of the solution and hope for students with anxiety. This is one more way education professionals can positively impact the well-being of kids everywhere.