Woodford house


Anxiety in Teenagers

ih_sept17_Kelly IvesAt the beginning of Term 3, the Woodford House boarding staff were fortunate to welcome Dr Lee Knight, our school counsellor and trained clinical psychologist, to guide them through some professional development around anxiety and wellbeing.

Anxiety comes in all different forms but is typically defined as a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease about something with an uncertain outcome.

A valuable model, which Dr Lee provided staff, around helping our students to effectively problem solve undesirable emotions included the following six steps.

  1. Identify and define the problem
  2. Generate possible solutions
  3. Evaluate alternatives
  4. Decide on a plan
  5. Implement the plan
  6. Evaluate the outcome.

These are simple steps that we can all take to help clarify the extent of stressful moments or events that can occur, for some, on a daily basis. We all experience these feelings throughout different stages in our lives, but what I am noticing more in our younger generation is that these feelings begin earlier and earlier. Whatever may trigger these thoughts of concern, apprehension or tension can be managed and supported from all cornerstones of our lives. Friends, family/whanau, school mentors, boarding house supervisors and teachers, all have the capability to support the whole wellbeing of our youth.

Wellbeing is the ‘oil of learning’ (Mann, 2006). This sits at the heart of what we do for our boarders at Woodford House. Students who are deeply and authentically cared for feel safe and that they belong.

To maintain that positive mind-set it is important to focus on what we can be thankful for around us. Building resilience in our young people is an important goal which, as part of our education curriculum, can go a long way to strengthen confidence and promote skills that help encourage both mental and physical wellbeing.

The New Zealand Institute of Wellbeing and Resilience states, “We only see what we focus our attention on… and very often we focus on the negative”.

We as educators, parents and mentors have a critical role to play in students’ lives. We must be mindful that today’s youth are living in a very complex world with different influences and pressures, diverse family backgrounds and structures, different events and experiences and rapidly developing technologies and the increased pressure of social media. Our youth are dealing with a fast changing world that is unprecedented compared with previous generations.

We discuss building resilience a lot in education, but what does this really look like for a Year 7 student compared with a Year 13 student who is about to embark on life outside of school?

We can help support our students today by recognising and identifying struggles they may be facing or feeling and knowing who or where their support networks stem from. When these factors are identified early, the challenges can be managed before they are perceived as being too hard to deal with.

Positive wellbeing is about the whole student. Students who feel they belong, start to believe in themselves through developing core values, self-confidence and self-worth, believing in their own future and being open to learning. Students can become who they want to be and contribute as global citizens. Wellbeing forms a solid foundation upon which to build a robust skill-set required for the 21st Century.

Woodford House boarding is focussed on developing student wellbeing and the whole individual. Our team, which includes House Supervisors, a School Counsellor, a School Nurse and senior students in boarding leadership roles, are continually working together towards developing an authentic and deeply caring culture to ensure our boarding environments are a ‘home away from home’ for our students.

Whether we are working alongside an individual student, a small group of students or providing large group initiatives, student wellbeing is at the heart of what we do.

In true Woodford House fashion, I’ll leave you with one of my favourite quotes: ‘Life is not about waiting for the storm to pass; it is about learning to dance in the rain’.

Mrs Kelly Ives, Director of Boarding

We invite parents and caregivers to contact myself, kelly.ives@woodford.school.nz or Dr Lee Knight, counsellor@woodford.school.nz at any time if you would like to discuss your daughter’s mental or physical wellbeing.