What is anxiety?
Anxiety is a feeling of unease, such as a worry or fear, that can vary from mild to severe. Anxiety is perfectly normal and everyone will feel anxious at times. However, anxiety becomes problematic when it affects behaviour and thoughts on a daily basis, interfering with school, home and social life. Recent research suggests that 1 in 6 young people will experience an anxiety condition at some point in their lives
Anxiety can make a child or young person feel scared, panicky, embarrassed or ashamed.
Some of the signs to look out for are:
- finding it hard to concentrate
- not sleeping, or waking in the night with bad dreams
- not eating properly
- quickly getting angry or irritable, and being out of control during outbursts
- constantly worrying or having negative thoughts
- feeling tense and fidgety, or using the toilet often
- always crying
- being clingy all the time (when other children are ok)
- complaining of tummy aches and feeling unwell
At an early stage, support can be sought initially from the school SENCo, who may be able to provide support from a pastoral member of staff, such as an ELSA. Other early interventions may be available, such as Drawing and Talking.
School mental health leads can access the Anxiety Toolkit on the Healthy Young Minds in Herts website
There are a number of agencies that can provide support for mild to moderate anxiety.
Mental Health Support Teams (MHST)
MHST Education Mental Health Practitioners deliver support and training for school staff and parents/carers, as well as individual and group interventions for children and young people with mild to moderate mental health needs, helping them to build their resilience and develop positive coping strategies. Not all schools in DSPL7 have an EMHP but the programme is being extended. If the school is part of the programme, referrals into the team can be made by the SENCo or Mental Health lead.
Children's Wellbeing Practitioners deliver manualised guided self-help interventions for anxiety, low mood and behavioural difficulties. Follow the link below to read more about their services.
The School Nursing service accepts referrals for cyp requiring support for low level mental health, emotional and wellbeing concerns including anxiety, low mood, anger, behaviour, self-esteem, stress, and sleep issues.
Getting more help
If anxiety continues to grow, and is beginning to affect some aspects of daily life, a second tier of support is available.
Step2 is a children and young people’s mental health service working with 0-19 year olds in Hertfordshire. The service offers brief, goal focused interventions to those who have mild to moderate mental health difficulties which are causing distress and impacting on day-to-day life. Young people should already have accessed specific help for their mental health prior to referral (which may include input from their health visitor or school nurse, counselling or group work). Step2 offers either group or 1:1 interventions and this will depend on the nature of young people’s difficulties.
The Step2 under 5s clinicians offer parent/infant relationship focused work using strengths and evidence based approaches to promote emotional health and wellbeing for infants and young children. Interventions offered include 1:1 and group approaches.
Making a referral
Step2 have changed the referrals approach to enable children, young people and their families to self-refer into the service.
- If parents/carers need support for their child or young person, or if a child or young person needs support for a mild to moderate mental health difficulty please call SPA on 0300 777 0707 in the first instance. The SPA advisor will be able to discuss the needs, and take the details needed to direct to Step2 or to the appropriate service for support.
- Professionals should email referrals to Single Point of Access (SPA) email@example.com or call SPA on 0300 777 0707.
DSPL7 funds NESSie arts therapy to support CYP with moderate mental health needs. Follow the link below to read more about the service.