What do you wish teachers in high school or college would do to help students with social anxiety?


#1

Hi everyone, I often respond to posts in the forum, but this is first my new post. I completed the audio therapy series many years ago and am doing well. I am looking for your input into an area that I often contemplate when I talk to teachers who have socially anxious kids in their classroom (I raise awareness of social anxiety disorder).

What can a teacher do to help students who may have social anxiety? Do you feel that it may be helpful for the teacher to have the student stay after class and investigate through informal conversation to see if the student may have social anxiety? Then share information so they can get help? Other ideas?

If a person is diagnosed with social anxiety and the teacher is aware, what do you feel would help the student to minimize anxiety in the classroom? What could potentially hinder progress? In general, I’m curious what experiences you have had, good and bad, in the classroom that you feel could be helpful to teachers to learn and improve to better help someone else in the future.

Personally, when I was in school, there was very little awareness of social anxiety disorder so my teachers didn’t have a way of knowing that I had the disorder. I wish they would have noticed so I could have gotten help sooner, but the good news is that I did get help eventually as an adult (better late than never!).

Thanks for your input!!

Lisa


#2

Hey Lisa,

Given that this condition (or any mental issue) is highly stigmatized, and there’s a great deal of shame associated with it, my biggest concern is that the teacher really understands the condition and has a handle on how devastating it is to the sufferer. Most importantly, discretion is advised. The worst possible scenario is that other students find out about the sufferer as a result of an unintentional slip of the tongue by a teacher.

It seems to me that the best case scenario is that the teacher treats the student exactly the same as the other students, while at the same time the student is directed to some sort of treatment program, maybe therapy or a knowledgable counselor.

Another thing to consider is the scenario where a knowledgable teacher identifies a student whom the teacher suspects as having SA. There’s a good possibility that the parents may react negatively (even hostile) if someone outside is seen as interfering with a “family issue”… The last thing most parents want to hear is that something is wrong with their child, especially if the child “looks normal”…

This is a tough one. I’m a little biased because of my long years of dealing with SA and depression. Ultimately discretion and caution are needed because of the potential to cause even more damage.


#3

@aeon Hi Jay, thanks for sharing your thoughts! Yes, I agree that it’s really a tough one in that the student with social anxiety isn’t going to want other students to know. This is where the approach teachers are using in having students leave the room to “take a break” and calm down, would clearly not work for a person with SAD. They do use that for other issues like ADHD and general anxiety. So there really is that special treatment requirement for students with SAD. And the parenting thing, I understand where you are going, maybe the teacher could get a read on how the parents are in the parent-teacher conferences and decide if it’s worth mentioning something or not. Thanks again for sharing, your thoughts are heplful!

Lisa


#4

I was in high school about 5 or 6 years ago and I just remember it being so hard at times. Take away the hormones and drama and just leave the social anxiety lol. Doing presentations in front of peers and group work used to cause me so much anxiety. Or when the teacher would have you pick a partner and you didn’t know anyone in the class. and like everyone has said above, it is pretty stigmatized, no one wants to be known as the shy one… Maybe now there is a little less stigma in situations like that. At the time I didn’t know I had SA, I just DREADED certain classes and would even get diarrhea or really dizzy.


#5

Interesting topic for discussion.