Evidence-based strategies for anxiety

Evidence-based strategies are those that have been evaluated by researchers within school settings, and found to be effective.

Activate social support

Provide time for positive interactions

Positive time spent with other students and staff can help all students. 

Talk to parents or carers

Talk to parents or carers to find out the best way to work with their child. Parents or carers can help you understand a student’s unique strengths and areas they need more support.


Listen and validate

If a student who has experienced trauma talks to you about their experiences, listen and express empathy. Avoid judgements or predictions (“you will get over this” or “only the strongest survive”). Don’t ask them for more information or detail as this may cause further trauma and distress.

Provide structure

Create a predictable environment

If there are going to be changes to the normal routine, tell the student beforehand, and give them a clear idea of what will happen instead. 

Provide clear expectations

This way students know what is expected from them.

Adapt activities to be as inclusive as possible

Some tasks may need to be modified

Allow students to face fears gradually – start at a level that does not cause them significant anxiety and build from there. Allow them to watch other students perform an activity or behaviour before they try. 

Allow extra time

If a student is anxious about sitting tests, give them extra time to complete the test. Also allow time to calm down before the test using strategies such as slow breathing. Remind them to pay close attention to the instructions. Give them time to feel comfortable with the place the test will be held and any examiners who will be there.

Allow time to calm down

Spend a few minutes of each day doing simple relaxation exercises
Spend a few minutes of each day doing simple relaxation exercises. This can be good for all students – not just those with anxiety. Access a relaxation breathing script or consider watching an example of a breathing and relaxation. You can also refer to the webpage for students around mindfulness techniques.