Anxiety, Panic, Depression and Phobia linked to school

You're not alone. Half the parents who contact me are trying to help an anxious or unhappy youngster.  

The issues parents bring me most often are

  • Feeling excluded and 'got at' - a torment for any child or teen
  • School phobia, which may reflect conditions at school or may stem from separation anxiety - a fear of being cut off from home and family, due to deep-rooted insecurity

  • Panic attacks and the fear of more to come

  • Depression, causing persistent gloom and low motivation. It occurs most often when people have little control of their lives

  • Agoraphobia - a fear of public places or. more generally, 'a fear of situations where escape could be difficult' (NHS) 
Above and below: How do we save this little girl from teenage despair?
  • Anxiety about meeting the social and work demands of school. This is always high when tests and examinations are looming. Nervous, pressured teachers can't help infecting their pupils!

Will the problem fade by itself or do we need help?

Above - 'Agoraphobia Kid' by Xindi Yan

This photo says it all: One child in seven needs help with anxiety or similar issues.

A modest level of anxiety means that the body and mind are keyed up to cope with a new challenge. It goes with being switched on and ready! See it like that and it starts to fade, disappearing completely as the challenge is met.

Severe anxiety can disable the youngster, who fails to cope and feels all the more anxious. Panic attacks can then set in, and these can cause agoraphobia due to a fear of losing control in public.

If your youngster’s anxiety is becoming excessive you need to act decisively to head off these dangers. Dithering now will tell them you’re as anxious as they are, which is not what they need. Here are some of the things you can do:

  • Try to ensure that your youngster feels heard by someone they trust. (If they prefer to use paintbrush or pen I can offer rewards

  • Make sure they feel heeded, with a really big say in how to move forwards. For a start, perhaps you could work as partners in weighing up the advice on this page

  • Make sure they feel upheld as individuals, with plenty of scope to succeed or fail in things that matter

  • Try to maintain routines such as school attendance. In any case, keep the school informed, especially if attendance is patchy. They mustn't treat school avoidance due to deep-seated fears as casual 'skiving'

  • Consider the option of home education, which could ease symptoms and suffering and open up a space for healing. To begin home ed just ask for your child to come off the school roll. Then, provided you do home educate, you answer to no one. 
When families visit us they often reserve their warmest praise for my wife's ponies!
  • Follow NHS guidance about exercise: it's a marvellous aid in the fight against depression and anxiety. (Some parents give too many lifts!)

  •  Consider having a word with your doctor, who can arrange professional counselling on the NHS (though there may be a wait).


  • Because of my own unhappy childhood (it's me in the school photo!), I try to assist in milder cases of school-age depression and anxiety. I'm CTA-trained but I'm not an expert and I don't make a charge. 

Please feel free to get in touch. (I usually reply within 12 hours.) Tony D Triggs                    

Thank you for contacting me. I will get back to you as soon as possible
Oops. An error occurred.
Click here to try again.
Click for my qualifications and a list of my published books and articles.