Teaching Students With Anxieties
Students With Anxiety Disorders in your Classroom
There are many things teachers can do today in order to intervene with students who may exhibit the signs of anxiety, depression, and suidical behaviors. However, the responsibility lies on the fact that the teacher must be willing to pay attention to the student's behavior at all times (Sunheim, 2005, Kraukager, 2005, & Williams, M., 2005). It is obvious that a student's behavior is an indicator when something has gone wrong. The way a student acts prior to an event is often a good sign that something has happened in their life. With that said, it is pertinent to question what the responsibilities are of a teacher when it comes to identifying anxiety, depression, and suicidal behaviors in their students.
First, teachers need to be vigilant. According to Sunheim (2005) one clue that a student may be overly anxious typically centers around tasks which were normally enaged in. Sunheim (2005) states that the student who suffers from severe anxiety may in fact avoid tasks altogether. This tends to become a problem because it interferes with the student's ability to do well academically and socially (Sunheim, 2005). Although this may be one of the telltale signs of an anxiety disorder, teachers also need to be aware of other disorders which could be co-morbid with anxiety.
According to Kauffman (2005) it is not unlikely that when a student is diagnosed with one disorder that the student will also have another disorder such as depression. Due to the sensitive nature of depression it is very important that teachers be on the lookout for signs of depression and suicide in their students.
According to Kraukager and Sandor (2005) when a student is depressed or coincidently suicidal it is obvious that there are certain signs which teachers must be on the lookout for. For instance, Kraukager and Sandor (2005) state that there may in fact be verbal threats (if even this seems to be a attention graber), their personality may change, they may have had past attempts at suicide, or they may give their possessiosn away. These are all signs which teachers cannot take lightly, as every moment counts when dealing with issues of a suicide attempt.
What Intervetions are Successful?
With that being said, teachers need to understand what interventions are most effective when intervening with student's who exhibit signs of anxiety, depression, and suicidal behaviors. First and foremost, it is important to understand and perhaps identify the source of the problem (Sunheim, 2005). This is especially important if interventions are to be effective. For those students who do exhibit anxiety disorders there are some very effective treatments available. Kauffman (2005) states that one such therapy is desensitization treatment. In this therapy the child will be exposed to his or her fear in an attempt to decrease the child's fear. However, teachers need to be cautious when employing certain methods, especially within the classroom environment. Sunheim (2005) states that some effective classroom interventions may include removing the problem or task that is avoided and teaching relaxation techniques tothe student in the presence of the task. In addition, it might be wise to expose the child to his or her fear in smaller increments (Sundheim, 2005).
So what are the most effective interventions for students who exhibit suicical behaviors?
Before this is addressed it is important to note that what is done to help someone who is suicidal needs to be done with care. If an intervention is not exercised with caution this could lead to the eventual completion of the suicide. Candor (2005) suggests that the teacher should show support to the student who is suicidal and not place judgement on the student. This is crucial to building trust and opening the door for more conversation about what is bothering the student. In addition, it is crucial that the teacher openly about suicide and ask pertinent questions (such as are you thinking about suicide? Do you have a plan?). While many people may fear that such questions implant the idea in a student's head, in reality they do not make a person who is already contemplating suicide go and do it. Finally, Sandor (2005) states that it is important to offer the student alternatives and remove all the means which a student could use to complete the suicide.
Although there are effective interventions that can be used with students who exhibit anxiety, depression, and suicidal behaviors, teachers must be tuned to those interventions which are not effective. One of the biggest issues when intervening with the student who is suicidal is the approach that is used when speaking with the student. Teachers need to be cautious of what it is that they are saying when they do counsel the suicidal student. Sandor (2005) suggest that one thing which teachers need to avoid is offering them advice. This is generally not an effectiev device to use with someone who is contemplating suicide. Additionally, lecturing someone who is suicidal is prone to make them more likely to complete the suicide. Therefore, teachers should avoid lecturing students and instead offer a sympathetic ear.