Health Issue 1 Alisha Meyer

Anxiety & Depression

Childhood Anxiety

Anxiety is rampant in the school system. Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S., affecting about one in eight children. Research shows that untreated children with anxiety disorders are at higher risk to perform poorly in school, miss out on important social experiences, and engage in substance abuse. (National Institute of Mental Health, 2016)

I am a 2nd grade teacher and see it commonly amongst my students and in my own children, who are now 17 and 14. I find that in teaching, the least of my concerns is getting through the next curriculum lesson, but helping students deal with their varying of anxiety. I am passionate about finding techniques to help students and my own children feel more confident internally and within the classroom and community so that learning can be meaningful and fully embodied. I want students to shine and enjoy coming to school. I want my children to be confident in their unique personalities and head forth into the world without all the stress they carry.

Anxiety is defined by an excess of fear, which is the most common emotion people feel when there is an immediate threat. It is the anticipation of a future threat. Anxiety can also consist of avoiding situations and having panic attacks. There are several different types of anxiety disorders. They are: Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Specific Phobias, Agoraphobia, Social Anxiety Disorder, Panic Disorder, Separation Anxiety Disorder and Selective Mustism Disorder. Anxiety disorders are typically seen with other mental health conditions such as depression, ADHD, and autism spectrum disorders. (, 2016)

I believe that exploring the arts can help children with anxiety because art is a way to naturally calm the nervous system. In the right environment, art can be a safe place to let vulnerabilities into the world for all to see. “When our attention has shifted, our nervous system can begin to regulate. And we can have more access to the rest of our brains, thoughts, emotions, empathy and compassion” (Meister, 2016). Expression through the arts can also be a form of nonverbal experiences that can provide more distance from the situation and gives a different perspective.


In Abnormal Childhood Psychology, Wright wrote, "Research has shown that social anxiety and depression regularly co-occur (Ingram et al. 2001). For instance, of people with a lifetime diagnosis of social phobia, 37.2% also had a lifetime diagnosis of major depression (Kessler et al. 1994).

Deisinger et al. (1996) have observed that anxious participants are more likely to cope through seeking social support than others, and Rubin et al. (1984) showed that socially withdrawn preschoolers favour adult-dependent solutions for coping with peer conflict, possibly because of greater parental overprotectiveness (see Rapee and Spence 2004).

Primary school children systematically and reliably reported using a wide range of coping strategies in response to a social stressor. Moreover, social anxiety and depression were found to be associated with distinctive patterns of coping, with longitudinal analyses showing that the conditions encourage or inhibit tendencies to cope in different ways. In peer conflict situations, symptoms of depression appeared to reduce the likelihood of accessing social support and dealing with the problem, as well as the use of distraction to ease negative emotions. Social anxiety, on the other hand, increased worrying thoughts, but also predicted greater willingness to approach others for support. These findings provide clear entrances for practitioners working with socially anxious and depressed children. However, the absence of reciprocal links—predicting adjustment from earlier coping—raises new challenges. Further research, examining possible developmental changes through adolescence, is needed to develop targeted work on coping that can be effective in interventions for clinical conditions."

Wright, M., Banerjee, R., Hoek, W. et al. J Abnorm Child Psychol (2010) 38: 405. doi:10.1007/s10802-009-9375-4



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Other Resources:

Storch, E. A., Milsom, V. A., DeBraganza, N., Lewin, A. B., Geffken, G. R., & Silverstein, J. H. (2007). Peer victimization, psychosocial adjustment and physical activity in overweight and at-risk-for-overweight youth. Journal of Pediatric Psychology, 32, 80–89.

Wright, M., Banerjee, R., Hoek, W. et al. J Abnorm Child Psychol (2010) 38: 405. doi:10.1007/s10802-009-9375-4

Walker, H. M., & McConnell, S. R. (1995). The Walker-McConnell scale of social competence and school adjustment adult version. San Diego: Singular Publishing Group.

Zahn-Waxler, C., Klimes-Dougan, B., & Slattery, M. J. (2000). Internalizing problems of childhood and adolescence: prospects, pitfalls, and progress in understanding the development of anxiety and depression. Development and Psychopathology, 12, 443–466.

Facts & Statistics. (n.d.). Retrieved January 15, 2017, from

3 Art Therapy Techniques to Deal with Anxiety. (2015, October 12). Retrieved January 15, 2017, from

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