The Importance of Anxiety Management in School

Hayden Rose, Editor

Anxiety and stress tend to be widespread issues throughout schools, and the way that students cope with them can affect their overall mental health, so it’s important for people to know and understand their own healthy coping mechanisms. Anxiety in teens can be caused by many factors, including the large workload that most students have to deal with, overwhelming social exhaustion, and overwhelming changes in environment, such as those of the pandemic.

What is anxiety? I talked to Mrs. Michelle Kouns, a counselor here at BHS, who said, “My definition of anxiety is anything that creates a higher level of negative stress in your world.” When I asked what negative stress meant, she replied, “Negative stress is anything that prevents you from moving forward. We always have stress, stress is in our world, there’s no way to live stress-free, but it’s how we respond to that stress and what we put in place to prevent that stress that really matters. Stress isn’t always negative though, sometimes it pushes us and motivates us to finish something or progress in something, like finishing an assignment on time.”

Counselors and staff are mainly concerned with students’ time management, the way they balance their time between school, home, and social lives, and how students take care of themselves. Both of these things are important in the care taking of one’s mental health, and people should be able to maintain all of the things they need to while also maintaining the lives they want to have.

Mrs. Kouns, reported, “Balance is just one of the words we throw around a lot, but it’s different for everyone, so it’s taking the time to take care of yourself. What are you doing to enjoy the world outside of school, how are you enjoying the world around you?”

The counselors are there to help students understand these things, and help them recognize that they can put themselves and their mental health over other things. “I ask them what they’re doing to take care of themselves, what their typical day looks like, and you really have to ask to make sure that the balance is working for them,” Kouns says, “It’s about asking the students how taking care of themselves fits into their world. This should open opportunities for the student to find the solution themselves, which is very important.”

Talking about coping methods, Mrs. Kouns emphasizes that a student’s coping mechanism should be their own, “If it works for someone and is a healthy option, who am I to tell them otherwise? There isn’t a one size fits all recipe.”

One of the main causes of anxiety in students this year is the shift from online learning to in-person learning; it gets increasingly harder for students to continuously adapt to new changes in the school environment. “The workload that students have ‘trained’ for changed last year, and they got used to it. Now we’re back to what we originally trained for, and there’s a learning curve to it for everyone, even teachers. We kind of forgot what it was like to be here,” Mrs. Kouns says.

It’s important to note that not only are the counselors trained in mental health and counseling, and required to retrain every so often to keep their license, but the teachers are also trained, and will help you if you need it. If you ever find yourself needing this assistance, feel free to talk to a teacher to get some ideas for next steps you could take, or stop by the counseling office or the BHS website to set up an appointment with a counselor. They’ll help you with just about anything, and they’re all such kind people. They are a resource for the students, so don’t feel like you shouldn’t use them.