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Who keeps telling these kids they have "anxiety"??

Discussion in 'Workplace dilemmas' started by dunnocks, Apr 24, 2019.

  1. dunnocks

    dunnocks Star commenter

    " stop telling me off, it triggers my anxiety"

    " I need to leave the lesson miss, my anxiety is playing up"

    " I cant do exams because of my anxiety"

    " I had an anxiety attack last night and couldn't finish the homework"

    " My attendance is 80%, which is very good for someone with anxiety"
  2. sooooexcited

    sooooexcited Occasional commenter

    My thoughts exactly.
  3. HelenREMfan

    HelenREMfan Star commenter

    I would hazard a guess that these kids have minimal anxiety! I work with quite a few kids who have this diagnosed: the girl who doesn't sleep for 3 days because of extreme anxiety, one who has separation issues which has massive implications for the rest of her family particularly the mother, one who was a carer for a parent (who kept announcing that doctors had declared she was dying - she is still on the planet several years later) the self harmers etc. The anxiety can be exhibited in many different ways and is very real at the time to these kids. I do think some of it is stemming from the modern stress these kids are exposed to: school, family, environment and even the ubiquitous social media. I do know I didn't have half as much to stress me out as some of these kids..... I just put my head down and swam as many minutes of the day as I could.
    DIPS1, carterkit, corgie11 and 6 others like this.
  4. caterpillartobutterfly

    caterpillartobutterfly Star commenter

    I'm glad you don't teach my nephew or the daughter of a close friend.
    Both have been diagnosed with anxiety and, fortunately, attend schools where there is a good understanding of mental health among staff and good support for the pupils.

    Both are excellent pupils and are doing well in school. However they could both have said more or less all of your examples at one time or another, though would probably have done so more intelligently and so seemingly more politely. However, mental ill-health isn't restricted to those with high intelligence and excellent verbal skills.

    As a teacher with anxiety I have said the adult equivalent of most of your examples this academic year. I currently have a very understanding head and deputy, so explanations in detail aren't needed in public situations.
    "Please can we deal with this later. I am panicking with what has happened and need to go and calm down for a while. I promise to come back later and discuss it then."
    In a staff meeting, I can just catch their eye and mouth "I need to go." and they nod.
    "I can't manage to lead that part of a staff meeting because my anxiety is very high at the moment because of ...."
    "I had an anxiety attack last night, so couldn't finish my form teacher reports."
    This worked the other way with the head saying "Two and a half weeks off in two whole terms is very good for someone with anxiety who had had to deal with all the issues and events that have happened for you this year."

    Like I said, I'm glad you don't teach my nephew or my friend's daughter. I'm also glad my head and deputy are rather more enlightened.

  5. sbkrobson

    sbkrobson Star commenter

    By your description.
    By the standards of my workplace.

    On a different note, it is interesting that I teach quite a few children who have fled from war torn lands, who live in cramped living conditions, who have sustained attack, poverty, real hunger; children who have had a gun held to their head, who have lost siblings, homes, cultural identity. All this, and never too anxious to get their homework in on time.
    This to me is a recipe for disdain of the sort of anxiety I recognise in the opening post. It's quite frequently a mental health buzzword opt out from those who cannot be arrused. I myself cannot be arrused to differentiate.If somebody (a child) suffers anxiety I am there for them. And I always was over the many years I have been a teacher.
    But less so for somebody who says they suffer anxiety. A badge is not the same as a state of being.

    I am pretty sure lots of people will protest against this post, but protesting by brandishing your own badge at me is not really of much interest to me.
    Last edited: Apr 24, 2019
  6. caterpillartobutterfly

    caterpillartobutterfly Star commenter

    :) I suppose it helps that my work is always done well and that I don't take advantage, and they know that.
    They definitely aren't 'indulgent'...:oops:
  7. HelenREMfan

    HelenREMfan Star commenter

    I admit I was thinking about the stress people were under during the war years but then I thought of how people generally cope when the actual chips are down and they have little choice. Who is to say that things don't come out much later. As I said, society is quite different now, the family unit is fast disappearing for so many children and the support and structure it can supply. We are generally encouraged to be more open about feelings, worries etc. The British "stiff upper lip" has been encouraged to disappear - maybe we do give in to things too easily. I do not have any glib answer to solving this eruption of mental health issues we seem to see. It is however very real to the kids genuinely affected by anxiety. My current Year 7 girl, off school because of anxiety, was rather down today (not helped by a meeting with her CAMHs worker right before our tuition) I had seen mum whilst my pupil was in her session and mum off-loaded a bit to me as the Easter break had seen a deterioration in her daughter. Mum is very concerned that the self-harming might start up again - so upsetting to be facing that as a parent. The LA are trying to move things on too quickly for them and the plan to move her on to a pupil centre (still out of the school) is making them anxious and seems to be moving too far, too soon (aka a cost cutting exercise)
    This is also the case for my year 5 pupil and tomorrow we face what is probably going to be a melt-down situation as I try to play 'pig in the middle' on the LA plan to 'move things on'. Quite why we have to show progress after quite a short time I do not know. Parents are faced with a 9 year old who tells them she wishes she hadn't been born like this and wishes she were dead. Father is really worried that if she feels like this now, what will things be like when she is a teenager.
    I feel it is just like Ofsted - always wanting to see 'improvement'. When did it become the norm for constant improvement to be made? Why can it not be accepted that improvement can be achieved when it's possible and recognise that it can at times be immeasurable and take time?
  8. lovejoy_antiques

    lovejoy_antiques Senior commenter

    Do you think there is a link between increased anxiety amongst students and mobile phones/ social media?

    It's definitely taken bullying to a new level. Plus the competition for likes on selfies etc is bound to impact on self esteem.

    It does seem to be an ever present distraction from the real world around you. ...He said as he tapped away on his mobile phone!
  9. sbkrobson

    sbkrobson Star commenter

    But I think there's an even bigger link between kids who say (smugly) they have anxiety, and parents who storm into school to complain about detentions.
  10. DYNAMO67

    DYNAMO67 Lead commenter

  11. lovejoy_antiques

    lovejoy_antiques Senior commenter

    Any medical or psychological complaint that manifests itself with the symptom of extreme smugness doesn't really pass the sniff test with me either. Unfortunately there are a lot of well meaning Lou's being taken for a ride by high diving Andy's!
  12. HolyMahogany

    HolyMahogany Senior commenter

    We know that there is a growing issue about the stress and anxiety that all people in society are having to cope with. There will be those with serious and genuine problems and those who may try to manipulate the system to their advantage. Can I always spot the difference? No of course not.
    I would rather do the right thing by supporting individual children even when I know they might be trying it on rather than overlook a genuine cause for concern. But of course I do feel a great sense of frustration and annoyance when I think an individual is wasting the time and energy of staff at the expense of children with real problems. Just because someone is expressing that frustration does not mean that they don't care, but it does wear you down.
    For me the biggest concern is that we are in a profession that is becoming so overloaded that we cannot always cope and give the support that is needed, where it is needed. My biggest issue is with a government that talks about the importance of mental health issues and then simply passes the buck onto overworked teachers and health professionals.
    If these issues are to be addressed effectively we need real investment in our health care and education systems, for the time being it is left to us to cope with in spite of the stress it causes us.
  13. caterpillartobutterfly

    caterpillartobutterfly Star commenter

    Absolutely this!
    It certainly does. And managing someone with genuine anxiety can also wear you down.
    Agreed completely!
    LunaBlue123, agathamorse and IanG like this.
  14. Lalex123

    Lalex123 Established commenter

    With some children I feel there is a difference between making excuses and their real anxiety. Some children are also pandered to and this enables their anxiety to grow.

    I’ve had a number of children tell me they can’t take part in my lesson because of anxiety and when we’ve had a chat and set some goals, they coped well and improved their confidence over time, leading to some performing at concerts etc.

    I think for my subject, anxiety can be used as an excuse to avoid hard work. When children see that this doesn’t work, they soon stop telling me they can’t do things and give the task a go. They understand that they need to try and if they still feel anxious there’s always next lesson to try again...
  15. DYNAMO67

    DYNAMO67 Lead commenter

    The anxiety debate.... a quick way to lose friends.... some may find my view a little controversial

    I think that the consequence of increased mental health awareness has many positives, and a few negatives. This is one.

    I Work in a middle class school. Before that I worked in a very working class one. The number of kids with supposed anxiety is massive where I am now. I don’t think they all genuinely have mental health issues, no. I feel some want a label, I feel some use it as an excuse to get out of lessons, I feel for some it’s a consequence of a bit of a lack of resilience-sorry. Then there are some with true mental health issues.

    I think anxiety is an easy label to give children. Especially middle class girls who can articulate it, and don’t have the same level of stigma as boys and the working class.

    There was a brilliant study into male mental health that articulated this way better than me.
  16. FriarLawrence

    FriarLawrence Occasional commenter

    Speaking as an adult who suffers quite badly with anxiety, I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy. The "snap out of it"/ "man up" (vom) culture we've lived with for so long is enormously destructive, and if the price of increased awareness is a couple of malingerers, I'd infinitely prefer that to people suffering without help.
  17. mothorchid

    mothorchid Star commenter

    I do suffer from time to time with GAD - it's a long-term consequence of the WRS and bullying I underwent some years ago - and it's a real thing, which can be very disruptive of "normal" life. I have taught students who suffered from GAD in the past, long before it became so widely talked about.
    And I have met many many people who say they have anxiety problems, when what they appear to have is some reluctance to do something, for whatever reason.
    Some years ago, it seemed all the students who were reluctant had ADD. Now fewer seem to have it. Before that there was something else, I am sure.
    I suspect a proportion of the students who give anxiety as an excuse for not doing something are jumping on a bandwagon, but this does not mean it isn't real. Just like all the other issues which come and go. I do think that as adults, we mostly get on with our lives, adjusting as necessary. But we are talking about children, who need to learn that this is a healthy way forward, and as such, if there is a genuine issue, concessions need to be made. But I stress the word Genuine. How we identify genuine as opposed to trendy band-wagon-jumping is a very complex question and one I have no real answer for.
  18. GirlGremlin

    GirlGremlin Occasional commenter

    Anxiety is something that is very hard to understand, if you haven't suffered from it. It can be hard to empathise with as well, but should everyone that suffers be tarred with the same brush? Absolutely not.
  19. Eflmeister

    Eflmeister Occasional commenter

    I really disagree with the OP here. Anxiety is a very complicated issue.
  20. defenceagainstthedarkarts

    defenceagainstthedarkarts Occasional commenter

    No one is disputing the existence of anxiety as a condition, but like many conditions, it has become faddy and as such, meaningless.

    There is a difference between anxiety which as a condition is both debilitating and distressing (and ongoing) and "things you may be anxious about." Of course, there may be occasions when the two marry, however generally anxiety will exist regardless of life's challenges.

    For example, I am anxious about my Year 10s sitting English Lit a year early.

    I am not suffering from anxiety because of it, however.

    Likewise, I imagine many young people are anxious about their GCSEs and A levels. A small minority of them may also have anxiety.

    As things stand, I do not think we are "on the verge of a mental health crisis" (some want us to believe we are, however) but if you are going to take "an anxious student" to mean "a student suffering from anxiety" then a MH crisis it is indeed.

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