Making Change: Does Your Young Person Experience Anxiety?

Does your young person experience anxiety?

Making Change to Better Families

Anxiety disorders are the most common mental health problems experienced by young people. In Australia, anxiety disorders are estimated to affect one in ten young people aged between 12 – 24 years old. Anxiety affects more females than males, which I think is interesting considering the social pressure girls feel in relation to their appearance and relationships.

Every young person will experience anxiety, but some will experience it more often and more deeply than others. Young people whose fear interferes with their everyday life concern me the most. Those young people are ‘at risk’ of developing an anxiety disorder which disables their ability to function at their best, and as always, early intervention is the best plan of attack.

Here are some common symptoms of anxiety:

· Emotional changes
· Persistent worrying
· Irritability
· Difficulty concentrating
· Avoiding feared situations
· Excessive shyness
· Inability to relax
· Problems socialising
· Poor sleep
· Body complaints – headache, stomach ache

Routine, relaxation and breathing techniques are commonly accepted strategies which can make a real difference when worked through with a psychologist. Here are two additional thoughts which Teen Expert Michelle Mithchell (from Youth Excel) has. seen help young people:

1. Awareness of and management of negative thoughts – Our body responds to anxious thoughts by eliminating stress hormones. These stress hormones impact each person’s body in a different way but produce some of the symptoms listed above. Our bodies emit stress hormones, also called response chemicals, regardless of whether the anxious thoughts are real, imagined, rational or irrational. A behaviour log which identifies anxious thoughts can help young people discover how anxiety is impacting them.

2. Finding core strength – I don’t think many young people fully understand that they can experience fear and strength at the same time. The idea of feeling afraid and being brave (in the same instance) needs to be explored and discovered by every young person experiencing anxiety. It is only then that can they conquer and overcome fear which is debilitating.


If your teenager is experiencing anxiety and needs support from a psychologist, counsellor or mentor, Youth Excel would love to help.


by Michelle Mitchell

Michelle worked as a teacher before establishing Youth Excel in 2000, a charity which delivers life skills education and mentoring programs to state, private and alternative learning schools nationwide.With her work been featured on The Today Show, Today Tonight and Channel 10 Morning News, Michelle’s honest and hope-filled approach has seen her help countless teenagers transition successfully into adulthood.