Social workers suggest strategies to manage anxiety


Kate Haddon

The counseling on after a busy school day. Students can find resources for coping with anxiety here and talk to the school’s social workers about mental health issues they are facing.

According to the World Health Organization, one out of 13 people have anxiety. For some high school students, things like multiple assignments, needing to interact with lots of other people and uncertainty about the future can be a cause of anxiety. Social workers at school can help students with their anxiety.

Although anxiety is a difficult problem to face, school social workers say that there are certain strategies that can help. Lincoln has two social workers, Giovanna Bocanegra and Judy Marantz-Herzberg. Both agree that addressing or dealing with anxiety is a multi-step process.

“The first point is for the student to talk to their academic counselor and then their counselor can either put in a referral for a school social worker or put in a referral for a school based therapist,“ said Bocanegra. ”Going to your school counselor if you’re struggling with anxiety is a good first start.” 

Sometimes students avoid taking the first step out of fear. 

 “I think one [unhealthy coping mechanism] of the big ones is avoidance,” said Marantz-Herzberg. “If you’re anxious to go into your math class, or go to school at all, people avoid it and then what happens is you don’t get to kind of build up that muscle and you don’t get to learn that actually you probably can manage it. You don’t get to figure out how to do it and it just sort of strengthens that avoidance tendency.” 

The idea is that you can’t ignore anxiety, because it doesn’t just go away. So you have to find ways that’ll make it better.  Bocanegra says many strategies for coping with anxiety are available.

“There are YouTube videos, apps you can use, we have peer support groups here at school, so joining a support group, joining clubs or sports. I would actually say the biggest one is breathing exercises,” said Bocanegra.

Once students overcome avoidance they can start to learn to live with their anxiety. Marantz-Herzberg said it is often a process. 

“So let’s say for instance I’m afraid to drive over bridges, so I could face it gradually by saying well I’ll drive as a passenger but I’m not going to be behind the wheel, and that’s kind of like baby steps or training wheels,” said Marantz-Herzberg.  “Then I could say well I’ll do it but I’m only going to do it when it’s not rush hour and then I’ll realise okay that was scary but I did it and then you kind of work your way into it.”

Anxiety is very common. Everyone has dealt with some kind of anxiety, everyone can get anxious. Although it’s a common feeling it’s hard to overcome.

“I think sometimes students feel like everything rests on one thing when really we all have lots of opportunities to kind of get where we’re going. It’s not ever any one thing.” said Marantz-Herzberg.


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