Back To School Anxiety - How to beat it!

December 9, 2020
Students

Are you feeling anxious about starting the new school year?

If so, trust us, you are not alone!

Having heard from many of our students that starting a new school year was causing them to feel stressed or worried, we conducted a survey to see just how widespread this anxiety was. For those of us concerned about student mental health, the results are pretty shocking!

After asking 1000 of our students whether they were feeling “very anxious”, “slightly anxious” or “not at all anxious” about going back to school, a troubling 62% claimed to be experiencing anxiety at some level.

While for many students, this anxiety about going back to school will fade away after a week or so, for some it could develop into prolonged and intense anxiety or a number of other mental health problems. Given that as many as 1 in 3 students may already be suffering from mental health problems*, these high rates of anxiety surrounding the start of a new school year may indicate a further decline in student mental health and should be taken seriously.

Of the students in our survey, 49% identified concerns over their academic performance as the prime causes of their anxiety, with 38% claiming “getting good grades” was their main concern and 11% pointing to fears over “keeping up with school work”. Worries about “a new teacher” and “making new friends” were considered the source of anxiety for 4% and 2% of students respectively while 7% listed “other” causes.

The results indicate that the pressure of succeeding academically is a root cause of anxiety in pupils, but ironically anxiety itself can damage a student’s ability to do well in their studies. Anxiety can cause symptoms like fatigue, difficulty concentrating, panic attacks and problems sleeping, all of which negatively impact on a student’s ability to study successfully.

If you are feeling anxious about returning to school, it is important that you reach out for support and get help before it starts to seriously affect your mental and physical health. Whether you reach out to your parents, a teacher, or visit your GP, make sure that you inform people of how you are feeling so that you can get the help that you need and deserve.

Our CEO, Alex Dyer, said: 

“Discovering just how many of our students experience anxiety related to going back to school is alarming and something all parents and teachers should be aware of. While the impact on a student's academic performance is, of course, troubling, it’s the impact on their mental health which is most disturbing. We often pass off feelings like anxiety as trivial or even natural, particularly in the run-up to a change like starting a new school year. However, it is evident that students are feeling an unhealthy level of anxiety over something which should be a positive experience - returning to school.
It seems that students are feeling an exorbitant amount of pressure to perform, both academically and socially, without necessarily having the tools and support they need to do so. While students should be encouraged to try their best, it is vital that they feel able to do so in a safe and non-judgemental environment. We hope that making parents aware of the stress their children may be feeling and the start of a new school year will help them to spot any troubling signs and encourage them to find ways of helping their child manage stress effectively.”

Where to turn to for help? 

Feeling anxious about returning to school is nothing to be ashamed of, it shows that you care! But there are plenty of things that can be done to help alleviate your concerns and make going back to school enjoyable. Talking about your concerns to a counsellor, friend, teacher or parent can help you to see them in the bigger picture, making them less frightening and helping you to identify solutions. Meditation, exercise and breathing exercises can help you to stay calm in the moment if things start to feel overwhelming, and visiting a GP can help ensure that you get the support you need.

In situations where concerns over your academic performance are a big factor in back to school anxiety, you could consider getting the support of a private tutor, whether for 1 lesson or a series of lessons, to help you build your self-confidence and feel more secure in your ability to tackle the academic challenges of the year ahead.

If you would like to talk through tuition options, you can reach out to our expert team on: 020 3950 0320.

For more general questions and support for your anxiety consider calling your GP or reaching out to one of the helplines below:

  1. Mind: 0300 123 3393 (helpline open 9am - 6pm daily giving advice on your situation and where to go for help)
  2. Samaritans: 116 123 (free 24-hour helpline for anyone feeling distress)
  3. The Mix: 0808 808 4994 (free phone line for under 25s, 1pm - 11pm daily)
  4. Childline: 0800 1111 (free 24-hour helpline for under 19s)

Remember, don't suffer in silence or let anxiety ruin what should be a great school year. Talk to someone and get the help you need to feel happy and confident.

*https://www.cypnow.co.uk/cyp/news/2005975/one-in-three-secondary-school-pupils-has-mental-health-problem

Alex Dyer

Alex is the founder and director of Tutor House and has a degree in Psychology. He has worked in the educational industry for 14 years; teaching Psychology for 8 years at a school in London. He now runs Tutor House, after setting it up in 2012. Alex still tutors every week, he writes for the Huffington Post and has appeared on the BBC and ITV to discuss educational topics. Alex is an educational consultant and UCAS expert, he’s worked with hundreds of students over the years. He’s obsessed with squash, but is distinctly average.

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