Other considerations for anxiety

Assemblies

Assemblies or other large gatherings may worry some students.

Let students sit where they feel safe - perhaps near the teacher, SLSO, Aboriginal SLSO, AEO or a friend. As they feel less anxious encourage them to sit closer to their peers.

Performing in front of others or receiving awards may cause anxiety. Start with what a student can do and build slowly from there. 

Casual teachers

Changes in routine can be disruptive for many students with anxiety, and strangers leading a session may be particularly agitating.

If possible, tell students and parents or carers of an absence in advance so they can prepare for the change.

Support the casual teacher and student by informing them that the student may feel anxious, and about strategies to best help the student.

Excursions or camps

Students with anxiety can become anxious with changes in routine. 

Provide clear information about what will take place and consider pairing them with a close friend or person they feel safe with. Read more about guiding students to balance their own workload when supporting a peer.

Depression or low mood

Some students with anxiety may also have signs of depression, which may reduce their interest in school, and their motivation and mood. 

Provide warm and consistent support. Break assignment and school work down into smaller tasks. 

Students with anxiety and depression may need some changes to homework and classwork expectations. 

Consider referral to the learning and support team.

Transitions

For more information about supporting students with disability when transitioning across education settings, access our transition page.

Post-school transition to adult life should begin as early as possible in school. 

Aim to increase independence by working on organisational, social and problem-solving skills, and time- and self- management skills. Provide plenty of opportunities to practise them across a range of contexts. 

It may be helpful to identify skill gaps and develop a support plan to help them be successful (for example, social skills, academic and/or employment skills).

Emergency drills

Unexpected safety drills may upset some students with anxiety. This can be made worse if there are crowds of students. 

Consider letting the student know beforehand that there will be a drill and pairing them with a close friend or person they feel safe with.  Read more about guiding students to balance their own workload when supporting a peer.

Behaviour

Some students might show behaviours of concern. It’s important to remember students are most likely trying to communicate a need or want that is not being met. 

Consider specific phobias or trauma history in planning discipline. This may mean not isolating a student who has experienced trauma. 

Refer to the behaviour page for more information on how to reduce behaviours of concern by supporting the student and promoting more helpful behaviour, and our emotions page for more information about supporting a student with managing their emotions.

School refusal

Some students may refuse to attend school. Provide warm and calm support to the student and acknowledge how they are feeling. 

If a student is too upset to join the class immediately, provide them with a safe space to start with instead, such as the school library. As a student feels more comfortable being present at school, they can gradually re-join the class. For some students, this may take time. 

Additional help from health professionals working with the student, their family and the school may be needed to put a plan in place to support a student to return to school.

Alcohol and drugs

Some students with anxiety may turn to alcohol or drugs to reduce their anxiety. These students may benefit from referral to support agencies such as HeadSpace and Youth Drug and Alcohol Advice Service. 

You can seek support by discussing this with the learning and support team.

Social skills

Some students with anxiety may find navigating high school friendships difficult as they may take other student’s behaviours personally. See our bullying, cyberbullying and Monday freak out school stories.

Other co-occuring conditions

Students with developmental disability such as attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), autism, intellectual disability, specific learning disability or oppositional defiant disorder may have high levels of anxiety. 

Refer to understanding disability page or common needs page to help support the student..