Teachers are well placed to notice the changes caused by anxiety and depression which will be picked up through their understanding of student’s responses. Teachers, depending on their relationship with the student, are also more likely to be a probable first port of call either by the student concerned or, more often, by their friends.
Anxiety is probably the most common problem that teachers encounter. This may present as anxiety about being at school, school refusal, exam anxiety, avoidance of eating at school, fear of getting things wrong etc depending on the age of the child. Having a discussion with the student, engaging the parents to seek help for their child and implementing a management plan in the classroom can be very beneficial.
4 Facts in 4 areas
- Changes in school performance, for example dropping grades, slow, difficulty sticking to deadlines.
- Absent from school more, may find coming into school in the morning difficult.
- Lack of engagement.
- May become more challenging behaviourally – irritability, anger, truanting, self-harm, risk behaviour.
2. Physical Factors
- Changes in weight and appetite.
- May avoid physical activity.
- Appears tired and without energy.
- May present with a lot more physical illness, aches and pains, absences from school due to illness.
3. Psychological changes
- Looks sad and withdrawn.
- Less able to concentrate and memory changes.
- Easily irritable and angry.
- More easily tearful.
4. Social Factors
- Friends may present with concerns.
- Withdrawal from social groups, not joining in social activities.
- Forming new and transient friendships.
- Not contributing in group work or in class
What can schools do?
4 suggestions for change
- Include talks on anxiety and depression within the PHSE curriculum.
- Have a clear and effective system to support a student who presents with an anxiety or mood disorder.
- Allocate a named teacher and peer supporter from a core team of trained staff to be available should help be needed.
- Establish links with local services and know what the referral pathways are. Get a professional to help assess and make recommendations.
Managing depression – school guidelines