We decided to do a question-and-answer style format for this blog post to pick Alan's brains, as he works with many children and young people. Here, we talk about ways to support young people with anxiety. Without further ado, here goes!
What are the most common reasons for young people feeling anxious?
Unfortunately, there seem to be many things which make young people feel anxious.
- They may feel judged by others due to feeling negative about their looks or body image;
- Some may believe that they need to look a certain way, and compare themselves to others;
- Young people might fear not being liked, or not "fitting in" with their peers;
- Some young people experience bullying which can make them fearful of going into school;
- There may be pressures on young people from their school to perform to a certain standard;
- Young people may put pressure on themselves to perform well at school, for fear of failing their exams;
- They might feel uncertain about their future (e.g., university, employment);
- They may worry about moving to new schools/colleges;
- Outside of school, young people are often concerned about parental illness/separation, death of others or their own death.
What do you think influences young people’s levels of anxiety?
Social media and media in general, which presents images of unrealistic ‘ideals’ that young people can never achieve. Also, the media tends to place value on people's image and the attainment of material things rather than health and being happy for our internal qualities.
Although young people's forums on the internet can be useful places to share experiences, they can also make them feel worse when they see others suffering and cannot do anything to help them.
What impact do these anxieties have on young people?
What ways can others support young people with anxiety?
- Help them to question their thinking. Are their thoughts actually beliefs? Help them to challenge their thinking and find the evidence for it;
- Sometimes people think the best solution is to remove the young person from the source of the anxiety (e.g., school). In fact, there needs to be more of a balance to ensure that the anxiety is addressed and not avoided;
- Encourage the young person to build on their strengths and positives rather than focusing on the negatives. None of us are perfect, but focusing on their flaws will only keep them in negative thought patterns;
- Encourage and support the young person to do more things they enjoy doing. This can help to build confidence and distract them from their negative thoughts.
We hope you've found this post on supporting young people with anxiety helpful. If you have any other ways of supporting young people then feel free to leave them in the comments.
Also check our video on supporting young people with anxiety below.