John is fourteen and had been experiencing social anxiety at school for several years. During the last six months, he became increasingly distressed and was eventually unable to go to school at all. His mum Sarah wanted John to start his GCSEs but she worked part-time and didn’t have time to plan and deliver all of the lessons. She wanted him to follow the National Curriculum so that he could slot back into mainstream schooling in the future if he wanted to, and so that he could attain National Governing Body certifications. Sarah decided to sign up with MyOnlineSchool.com, so that John could continue his education at home, with fully qualified and experienced teachers, following the National English Curriculum. This gave Sarah the confidence that he would continue to receive a high-quality education from supportive teachers from the comfort of home, whilst receiving treatment for his social anxiety.
This blog post will cover:
- What is social anxiety?
- The effect of anxiety on students and their education
- Receiving a high-quality education from home
- Where to seek help for your child
What is social anxiety?
Anxiety disorders affect 4.4% of 11-16-year-olds in England. These may be related to worries about a wide range or issues, while social anxiety disorder, or social phobia, may be defined as a chronic fear of being negatively judged by others, or interacting in social situations, which can make someone feel embarrassed, awkward, humiliated, or depressed. People with social anxiety may experience intense emotional distress in social situations. Physical manifestations may include extreme fear, a racing heart, panic attacks, shaking, and difficulty breathing or swallowing.
The effect of anxiety on students and their education
Anxiety disorders have a huge effect on the quality of life and wellbeing of young people, leaving many feeling isolated and depressed. It has been associated with higher levels of substance abuse in adults. Anxiety can affect physical health by disturbing sleeping and eating patterns, and result in feelings of constant stress. Attending school can trigger intense feelings of panic and distress in young people, meaning that school days are missed. This affects performance in school, and young people can fall behind in their studies. Studies have shown a significant association between mental health illness in young people and school drop out. Anxiety disorders specifically have been shown to impact educational achievement. 49% of students experienced anxiety interviewed in a study reported withdrawing from school earlier than normal. Parents often decide to homeschool their child because their anxiety has made attending school impossible.
Receiving a high-quality education from home
It is important to treat anxiety disorders seriously and give the young person suffering from them the best possible chance of improving their mental health. Anxiety is highly treatable, with methods including cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), medication, and self-help. While a young person is going through this process, a significant consideration is for them to be in a safe and supportive environment, where they can continue to study. Gaining educational qualifications is extremely important for securing future employment. Just because anxiety prevents a child from attending mainstream school, this does not have to compromise their ability to achieve their full academic potential.
“Just because anxiety prevents a child from attending mainstream school, this does not have to compromise their ability to achieve their full academic potential.”
MyOnlineSchool.com provides a full education online following the National Curriculum, which a young person can complete from the comfort of home. They are taught all of their lessons in real time, by qualified teachers, just as if they were in a classroom at school. This eliminates the stress of being in a social school situation but ensures the continuation of a high-quality education and the completion of GCSEs and A Levels. While online schooling cannot be a replacement for the social elements of mainstream schooling, for children with anxiety and their parents, this educational support may be the best alternative. It can give a young person space and security to go through therapy for their anxiety, without compromising their ability to study full time.
Local authorities are increasingly recognising online schools as ways for young people with mental health illnesses who drop out of school to continue their education to the greatest possible extent. Many offer financial support for students who wish to study online.
Where to seek help for your child
If you are concerned about your child the following organisations may be of use:
- Your local child and adolescent mental health service (CAMHS). These are the NHS services that assess and treat young people with emotional, behavioural or mental health difficulties
- Your local GP
- Youth Access- advice and counselling services
- YoungMinds Parents Helpline
- 0808 802 5544
- Anxiety UK
- 08444 775 774
- 0300 123 3393