Tackling test anxiety is a growing concern for professionals who work with adolescences and young adults within the education system. According to a new study, showing students how to deal with test anxiety may help them handle built-up angst and concerns about other issues. Carl Weems, Ph.D., has been conducting a study at the University of New Orleans. His study has shown that anxiety intervention programs that focus on academic matters fit into the school routine, and do not carry the same stigma among youth as general anxiety programs. Anxiety problems are on the rise. It is one of the most common emotional difficulties students experience. As professionals it is important to give children the tools they need to learn how to cope with varying emotions and behaviors. “If not addressed, these feelings could lead to academic difficulties, the increased risk of developing depressive or anxiety disorders, and substance use problems in adulthood”, Carl stated.
Anxiety is not always addressed in the school setting. Carl and colleagues have focused their study on test anxiety because it is a common occurrence that children can relate to in order to understand anxiety. In his study intervention was presented to 325 kids between the ages of eight and 17. The intervention taught kids behavioral strategies, such as relaxation techniques to use during exams. The report showed the intervention as useful for the kids who received it. At the end of the study their was a decrease in test anxiety, anxiety disorder, and depression symptoms. It especially helped the older students to feel more in control of the situation.
Test anxiety has been linked to depression and PTSD disorders. Weems stated , “Test anxiety interventions may be a practical strategy for conducting emotion-focused prevention and intervention efforts because of a natural fit within the ecology of the school setting.” Schools are urged to treat anxiety case by case. It should not be considered a first line approach to treating severe anxiety disorders, but should be employed preventatively to teach students how to handle anxious emotions and other problems.