How School Staff Can Help Teenagers with Social Anxiety Disorder
Recently, we discussed how parents can help their children cope with anxiety and fear, and effective treatment options for social anxiety disorder.
In our final installment, we will explore the ways middle and high school administrators, educators, and other staff members can support adolescent students with social anxiety disorder.
How School Staff Can Help
Adolescents in middle and high schools are surrounded by constant social stimuli. While such an environment provides a valuable opportunity for cognitive and emotional growth, it can also be highly stressful for teenagers with social anxiety disorder.
According to professor and researcher Dr. Carrie Masia, the key to helping these students manage their concerns and emotions is to enhance staff training on detection and intervention methods for this population.
Knowledgeable staff can maintain an inclusive and supportive environment for anxious adolescents by providing structured interactions, and by encouraging class participation through activities that are less likely to induce anxiety.
For example, a teacher might assign two students to work as partners and guide them in initiating an activity to help ease a socially anxious student into the process. Creating achievable goals increases the likelihood that these students will feel competent in social situations, and provide opportunities to encourage and thereby reinforce pro-social behaviors.
Lastly, to ensure that any gains made in the classroom translate to other settings, it is crucial for teachers and staff to communicate with students’ parents and school counselors about academic and behavioral progress. This exchange of information allows parents and school staff to work as a team to improve student outcomes and put them on the path to success.
To learn more about effective treatment options for social anxiety disorder, please contact us or fill out an intake form online.