Frequently asked questions
Are there any long-term health risks for my child?
The transition back to school is going to pose a mental health risk for some children and young people. When we are anxious, a common reaction is to avoid the situation that makes us anxious. In the short term this reduces our anxiety but in the long term it increases our anxiety.
Avoidance is a good strategy when you have a massive tiger coming towards you and you need to escape but not so good when your anxiety and your perception of threat doesn’t match the real threat. It leads you to miss out on many aspects of life. Avoidance is not a great strategy for many situations because it limits our opportunity to test out our beliefs and limits opportunities for us to realise we can cope with challenge.
Because of isolation and lock down we have been avoiding situations that might typically make some young people feel anxious (like presentations at school, interacting with friends, public transport). Going back to school, might cause increased anxiety for people if they are thinking worried thoughts like “What if I catch it?” “This is going to be too hard” “I can’t do this.” Our anxiety is reduced by facing the situations that scare or worry us.
The more we do something scary, the easier it gets. The first day back can be difficult but as you face the situation and realise that your worried thought is not as likely as you thought (and that you can cope with the situation) the anxiety reduces. Doing this in a gradual way can make it easier.
For children and young people, a gradual transition back to school will make it easier for those children and young people with mental health difficulties. Parents can start thinking about what other strategies might help their children to make the transition back to school. A gradual, step-by-step approach works best. See more information about this on videos 2 and 3.
My teen has had ‘anxiety’ since she was in primary school. She has been through the Cool Kids program and this really helped but I am concerned her anxiety is going to come back. What do you recommend?
If you still have access to your materials from the program, it might be worth revisiting the content from the workbook. We have new materials available for children and teens or if you have the program you can download fresh worksheets from this page.
The videos we have provided in the top three sections above might also serve as a refresher about the signs to look for and strategies from the Cool Kids program. You could work through a detective thinking worksheet with your daughter and plan some stepladders for any situations she is avoiding because of her anxiety. If her anxiety starts to stop her from doing things she would like to be able to do, or she is worrying on a daily or almost daily basis then it might be worth speaking to your GP to assess the need for a mental health care plan or visit the clinic again. We have also provided a number of different options above.
I can’t get my teen out of bed to join in online learning. What should I do? Is he depressed?
It can be really challenging knowing the right response to your teen’s mood and behaviour. Parents can feel lost and so may do nothing to avoid saying the wrong thing. This then escalates your frustration and then lead to conflicts between the two of you which just makes it worse.
Take a look at the information we have provided above in this video, about how to recognise depression and also several helpful strategies. There are also some good tips for motivation in this video. He needs your support right now. Find some time (perhaps later in the day) to talk about your concerns with him. It might be useful to find another adult he could talk to informally.
For more Q&A
Professor Jennie Hudson answers a range of other questions about anxiety in children and young people here.
Content owner: Centre for Emotional Health Last updated: 14 May 2020 2:08pm