Supporting Teens: Failure to thrive / feeling stressed

Everyone is going through a tough time and even the most resilient pupils are likely to find that their wellbeing takes a hit.  Teens might seem more anxious than usual, they may be more irritable, angry or upset than a few months ago and in some cases they may seem a little listless, directionless and just generally seem not quite themselves.

When should I worry?

It’s important to remember that we’re in the middle of a pandemic.  Things are hard and we’ve been through a lot.  Whilst many teens might exhibit some signs that would normally be a red flag for you, as we go through a community-wide process of healing from trauma, our expectations will need to shift a little.  However, if there are individual children who stand out as struggling more than their peers, then it will be worth digging a little deeper and putting some additional supports in place. 

What should I do?

The best approach here is one of community healing.  Working with young people, school staff and families to create a safe and nurturing environment where children feel safe and seen and where they can begin to reconnect socially and find a sense of purpose and belonging again will really help.  It will help too to revisit the wellbeing basics of diet, sleep and exercise.  For many people one or more of these will have slipped significantly during lockdown and supporting a gentle reset now will boost both physical and mental health. 

Further support

Anxiety: Supporting Teens to Support Themselves – on demand course

Self-Esteem: Helping Teens Find Purpose & Belonging – on demand course

The mentally healthy schools website has some great ideas and resources to support your general approach: https://www.mentallyhealthyschools.org.uk. You may also find my book, ‘The Mentally Healthy Schools Workbook’ provides a helpful framework and lots of ideas.