It is estimated that 20% of children and young people are suffering from mental health difficulties, with many of these experiencing significant levels of anxiety.  It is an overwhelming feeling of worry or fear that is experienced as a combination of physical sensations, thoughts and feelings and the current backlog to accessing mental health services leaves parents & schools as the primary source of support for these young people.

Anxiety-disorders in children

Everyone experiences anxiety on occasion, but it becomes a problem when a young person feels stuck in it, or when it feels like an overwhelming, distressing, or unmanageable experience involving panic attacks or a constant state of fear. At this stage, it can have a huge impact on both behaviours, learning & attendance.

Emotionally Based School Avoidance (EBSA)

A recent survey conducted by mental health charity, Stem 4, found that 28% of pupils aged 12-18 years had missed school last year due to anxiety. If a few days off becomes long-term ‘emotionally based school avoidance’, the consequences can be devastating. The government recommends that pupils with anxiety are supported to remain in school, yet school staff feel they lack the required knowledge and resources to achieve this.

This course will help teaching and support staff to understand the many causal factors that trigger anxiety in young people, and how to reduce the impacts on attendance and learning. Attendees will be introduced to strategies to help manage anxiety-induced behaviour challenges, and approaches that may help prevent a further increase in anxiety in their wider student populations.

Learning Outcome 1 – Understand what Anxiety is and how it impacts on individuals.

1.1. Understand the function of this biological response to perceived threat.

1.2. Recognise the physiological and cognitive symptoms.

1.3. Identify different types & presentations of anxiety, and co-occurring mental health difficulties.

1.3. Identify the common triggers in young people.

Learning Outcome 2. Be able to identify the impact that anxiety has on pupils’ behaviour.

2.2. Understand the link between anxiety and dysregulation, and how this can impact on behaviour in school.

2.3. Create a toolkit to support anxious students’ behaviour using basic CBT and other recommended approaches.

2.4. Identify when students are in crisis and ways to support including appropriate referral pathways.

Learning Outcome 3. Be able to reduce the impact that anxiety has on learning.

3.1. Use the iceberg theory of behaviour to describe the impact anxious behaviours can have on learning & cognition.

3.2. Describe ways to overcome barriers to learning caused by different forms of anxiety.

Learning Outcome 4. Be able to support students experiencing emotionally based school avoidance, (EBSA).

4.1. Identify the risk factors, early signs of anxiety-related absence, and the thresholds for EBSA.

4.2. The importance of supporting students who are in school yet missing lessons regularly.

4.3. Develop a rapid response protocol to bring students back to school, fully supported, at the earliest opportunity.

4.4. Why a whole-school response it helpful along with PSHE for pupils, and additional training for key staff.

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