Anxiety From a Teacher’s Perspective

Anxiety, a prominent issue among teenagers, has negatively impacted school and personal lives.

English teacher Andrea Aquino has personally dealt with anxiety and hopes to help teenagers cope with their concerns.

“Over the years I have been teaching, I have been more open about my struggles with mental health because in the past I thought I need to get over it and have 0% mental health to help my students,” Aquino said. “It sort of changed that I should let myself be a little vulnerable and let them know that I struggle.”

Teachers are often aware of the stress of their students, but they struggle to know when it is the right time to help students.

“I struggle to know when it is time to help them push through or give them space or when it is time to help them get help,” Aquino said. “It is hard because the automatic response is ‘I’m fine.’”

Teachers sometimes wish they could help students who are struggling with anxiety to a point where it becomes frustrating. They attempt to accommodate the workload based on stress, but it is not always possible.

History teacher Ariana Rodriguez understands how anxiety can affect students in school.

“Trying to accommodate them a little bit more although I can’t always, which sometimes students expect, but is not always possible,” Rodriguez said. “I try to keep in touch with their teachers, like certain [AP] teachers. Hopefully by extending due dates, it can accommodate their workload.”

Teachers hope that the lighter load of work or leniency can help teens cope with their stress. Teachers seek to be transparent about their classes by telling stories of their own—from their struggles to how they have overcome it.

I struggle to know when it is time to help them push through or give them space or when it is time to help them get help. It is hard because the automatic response is ‘I’m fine.’

— Andrea Aquino

Spanish teacher Nico Mendoza shares his personal struggles when he was in school and uses his stories to influence students.

“I share stories that may be similar to them and I go back in time when I was in high school and I think about those hard times,” Mendoza said. “I give them suggestions on how to make them feel better.”

Allowing teachers to be open offers teens a platform to discuss their issues with their teachers and peers as well. More teachers have become self-aware due to the increase of students struggling  with anxiety.

“Let them know you care and be another support system,” Rodriguez said.

There have been such radical changes over the year such as the addition of mental health counseling and stress relief workshops, which have increased a student’s opportunity to seek help from an adult.

“I wish I had more time and resources to help them out,” Aquino said. “It affects how I approach teaching. I wish I could be more available for my students. It also affects which policy I push [at UPA] because we are lucky to push for mental health resources.”