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  • Writer's pictureMichelle Murray

Anxiety and teenagers: How does Occupational Therapy help

Updated: Mar 28, 2020

A recent study carried out in Ireland highlighted that the number of teenagers reporting high levels of anxiety had doubled from 11% to 22% since 2012.

19,000 teenagers completed this survey and only 59% reported that they'd be willing to talk to someone about their problems. You can read more about these findings here.

It seems alarming that our teenagers are experiencing more anxiety than ever but what strikes me as something that is even more alarming is their unwillingness to talk to someone about it. It begs many questions about how our culture still fosters a sense of fear, shame and guilt when it comes to talking about our problems. We need to do better. We need our younger people to feel supported and listened to and to know what supports are out there to help them manage their anxieties without feeling shame or guilt.

If you're a parent and you suspect that your teenager is experiencing anxiety, these might be some of the signs to look out for:

  • Physical complaints such as an upset tummy or headache

  • Withdrawal from social situations and friends

  • Expressing fear about a particular thing

  • Insomnia

  • Fatigue

  • Not being able to concentrate in school

  • Panic attacks

  • Irritability

  • Inability to relax

Since beginning my journey with Anchor Therapy, I remind myself everyday of what it must be like for a teenager to walk into my office and chat to me about their anxieties and worries, sharing their story with me, a stranger. I remind the younger people I work with how brave and how strong they are to be sitting here with me. I thank their parents for reaching out on their behalf. I thank their teachers and principals for adapting their school environment to meet their changing needs. As an Occupational Therapist, I work alongside each teenager, their family and their school to ensure that we are all on on the same page, working towards the same goals to help them in their recovery.

Building rapport with the teenagers I work with is a pivotal part of our therapeutic work together regardless of whether a young person presents with symptoms of anxiety, stress, depression and so on. I do this by ensuring my approach is welcoming and casual so that teenagers can hopefully feel accepted for who they really are and for what they want or need to say in our sessions.

Please feel free to reach out and have a chat over the phone with me if you've any queries or concerns relating to this blog.

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