Students and Anxiety – A Reality for Some

Your heart is pounding. Your palms are sweating. Your stomach is doing flips. And then there are your pervasive thoughts — as you feel these physical symptoms your mind is spinning with worry and fear.

Now picture this as if you were a child. Your life experiences may be minimal. Your ability to be resilient may also be limited. And you are fearful.

Anxiety: “An emotion characterized by feelings of tension, worried thoughts and physical changes like increased blood pressure.(American Psychological Association)

I’m not a psychologist. Not a therapist nor a counsellor. Nope — I’m not a mental health professional. My background is a science teacher who’s now a Superintendent — certainly not a trained expert on mental health or anxiety. But, it’s something I’ve been learning about.

This is Mental Health week in Canada – It’s Time to Speak Up

4 thoughts on “Students and Anxiety – A Reality for Some

  1. I have to say, I think this is an area where Saanich schools could really improve. Mental health issues like anxiety and ADHD in younger children can present as behaviour problems, including aggression and defiance, as the adrenaline floods their brains and particularly if their instinctive response is to fight. I would like to see a lot more training for elementary teachers and administrators to be able to recognize these issues and deal with them appropriately. In our case the response was to urge us to go to parenting classes and to discipline our child, which did nothing to help his anxiety.


    • Dear Kathryn. Thank you for your comments. One of the important goals in our school district is to continue to put increased emphasis on mental health awareness and literacy — including the issue of student anxiety. Some of our current initiatives include things like EASE (Everyday Anxiety Strategies for Educators), implementing Capacity Cafes for our staff as well as building awareness around trauma-informed practices. We work with our community partners as well as the Ministry of Education to provide on-going in-service opportunities for our professional team. And while there is always more that we can do, I am proud of the work we are currently doing to improve awareness and capacity in our team.


  2. Thank you for this blog and acknowledging the different levels of anxiety that exist in students I believe that slowly over time from generation to generation the stigma and negative connotations surrounding mental health will subside and mental health will be responded to on the same level as physical health.

    I have a child who experiences anxiety to the level where she currently is not able to be in the classroom. This of course did not start all of a sudden and there has been ups and downs for her since grade 1. We have had very positive experiences with teachers and school administrators and we have also had not so positive experiences.
    She has had 4 school districts in 4 provinces since she started school in 2009.

    The last couple of years SD63 has done a great job helping her and us navigate the ups and downs of the extreme anxiety. Middle school can be a tough time and with the changes of puberty, social relationships and many other things that affect kids at this age, I really have to applaud the job that the teachers and staff do. My daughter has had the experience of pretty much every facet and opportunity available to a middle schooler with anxiety. I believe the resources and programs are amazing as well as the people running them. They could use more warm bodies as the need seems to be increasing as more and more kids are experiencing it.


    • Hi Cindy. Thank you for your comments. Mental Health awareness and literacy continue to be important concepts in our district and a focus in our in-service opportunities. I am glad that your daughter has not only been supported but feels like she is understood in our schools. We look forward to continued growth in this critical area for student success.


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