chapter  4
24 Pages

School-Based Interventions for Anxiety Disorders

Although anxiety disorders are the most prevalent mental health problem experienced by youth, it is often children with disruptive externalizing problems such as Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) that come to the attention of school personnel. Children with anxiety disorders may be overlooked because of difficulty recognizing their internalizing symptoms, unfamiliarity with diagnostic criteria, and misconceptions regarding the negative consequences of these problems. Most school personnel are surprised to learn that approximately 1 in 10 children suffers from an anxiety disorder, with epidemiological studies estimating prevalence rates between 12% to 20% in youth (Achenbach, Howell, McConaughy, & Stanger, 1995; Gurley, Cohen, Pin, & Brook, 1996; Shaffer et al., 1996). Left untreated, these disorders tend to have long-term effects on social and emotional development. Negative consequences associated with anxiety disorders in youth include academic underachievement, underemployment, substance use, lower levels of social support, and high comorbidity with other psychiatric disorders (Velting, Setzer, & Albano, 2004). Moreover, evidence suggests that these disorders demonstrate a chronic course, often persisting into adulthood (Rapee & Barlow, 1993).