Avoiding School and Social Isolation

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MindEd provides free mental health e-learning for anyone who works or volunteers with children, teenagers or young people. The MindEd programme includes free online CAMHS training, counselling courses and mental health resources for teachers and health professionals.

This session deals with school refusal and avoidance, as well as social isolation and withdrawal. It will help you recognise and understand the anxiety difficulties that make it difficult for a child or young person to get into school or cope with social settings.

  • Worrying is normal.
  • Young people may be embarrassed to say that they are worried or to describe what makes them anxious, so it is important to ask.
  • Anxiety is just one of many reasons why young people may avoid school or social situations.
  • It is best to catch problems early as they are much easier to solve than problems that have had time to grow, and the teen has become an out of school child.
  • Talk to the young person about their worries to find out what is concerning them and to rule out any other problems.
  • Do not make light of worries - while they may not seem very important to you, they may be very upsetting for the young person, teenager.
  • It can be helpful to break problems down into small pieces (like in a hierarchy) and to motivate the young person by rewarding their efforts.
  • There are lots of good self-help books and websites available (see resources section).
  • Encourage the young person to face their fears.
  • If you are worried about the young person's safety then you must do something about it.
  • Do not be afraid to ask questions about why they are worrying or their anxiety - you will not make the young person more anxious by doing this.

Access the full MindEd session here.
Content provided by MindEd. Author: Denise Bevan. Published: March 2014. Review: March 2017.

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