Anxiety – The Hidden Disability

The Children’s Sangha’s mission has grown since its inception in 2003 yet maintaining its focus on the education and well-being of our children. We have structured our organization into two branches: The Long Island Progressive Education Alliance and A Place of Wonder. The first is a vehicle for our children to find meaning in learning and become successful citizens in their own way. The latter enables our young people to connect with a place of wonder within themselves and the natural world through relationship with others and exposure to nurturing environments. Our two branches are interrelated. Our Different Abilities Development Model is the thread that runs through all of our programs and consulting services. The understanding that we all have different abilities can lead us towards “finding and following our bliss” while helping others in the process.

One interfering factor that is not always emphasized, discussed, nor understood and can be considered a “hidden disability” for many of our young people today is Anxiety. Anxiety is prevalent amongst adolescents and even in children (of all cognitive levels, socio-economic status and cultural backgrounds)… in all human beings. The neuro-chemical process creating the anxiety and its related thoughts are “in the mind” of the individual and therefore hidden from outside view except when and where behaviors manifest. The “intention” of behavior is often misunderstood and can lead to inappropriate interventions by adults. Behavior is a response. Determining the cause of behavior requires working with the individual in a collaborative fashion for best outcomes and understanding that there are actions both parties can take to minimize anxiety and create a positive environment for all.

Anxiety is a normal reaction to stress and can actually be beneficial in some situations. For some people, however, anxiety can become excessive. While a person suffering from anxiety may realize it is excessive, they may also have difficulty controlling it. Managing anxiety can negatively affect their day-to-day living. There are a wide variety of Anxiety Disorders and Specific Phobias including Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) which can range from mild to moderate to severe. Collectively they are among the most common mental health issues experienced by Americans. Lifetime prevalence of anxiety impacts 25% of adolescents ages 13-18 and severe anxiety disorders effects approximately 6% of adolescents in the same age group (National Institute of Mental Health).

Anxiety is not just something to be dealt with in a psychologist’s office. Anxiety inhibits positive life functioning including in academic achievement. Anxiety may be based on an individual’s neurological make-up but it is also triggered by the environment. It is critical to be empathetic toward our children in the early stages, so that they do not internalize their anxiety and begin to believe that they are “bad, lazy, dumb, stupid” and help them to develop a positive sense of self-worth while combating anxiety. Therefore, anxiety needs to be worked with in any setting in which it manifests. Settings include, home, school and within the community.

The Children’s Sangha’s Long Island Progressive Education Alliance is just that… an alliance with the community led by community partners who are all working on behalf of our young people. I am pleased to announce that our efforts are gaining momentum and new initiatives are forming to broaden our impact in support of our youth and to assist with the causes and results of anxiety. A glimpse is provided below…

Stay tuned for all that is ahead in 2015-2016 including the Long Island Progressive Education Alliance’s IMAGINE Campaign! We will be launching this education reform initiative to raise awareness, educate, and take action on behalf of ALL children and young adults with particular focus on “Kids in the Middle” which includes 2e Kids. We look forward to sharing this information with you soon and inviting community participation!

Long Island Progressive Education Alliance (LIPEA) Initiatives:

NAMI Trainings (free service):

Remember… Race to Nowhere:

  • Race to Nowhere, a film that calls us to challenge current thinking about how we prepare our children for success and brings communities together to spark dialogue and galvanize change in America’s schools: