Young people and school

School is really important for your learning now and to help you have good choices for your life ahead. We know everyone can be ill sometimes, but you need to be at school as much as possible so you don’t fall behind in classes. Not everyone will like every subject or class, but there are lots of subjects and clubs which may help you enjoy and understand school better.

Being at school can also help you feel more positive and develop social skills by spending time with friends. Sometimes some young people may have longer-term issues they need help with, so we’ve included some information and links to websites you can read for more help.

Help for young people who are feeling worried about school

You may feel anxious about school for lots of different reasons. You might be worried about:

  • arriving at school
  • finding school noisy or overwhelming
  • making friends or fitting in
  • feeling lonely during the day
  • finding schoolwork or lessons confusing
  • finding some subjects difficult or uncomfortable
  • feeling pressured to learn in a certain way
  • finding relationships with school staff difficult

Sometimes, going through difficult experiences outside of school – such as the death of someone you know, an illness in the family or being a young carer – can also make it harder to feel settled at school.

For some people, attending school and trying to understand and follow the rules of this environment can cause feelings of anxiety and distress. This may be where you identify as neurodiverse or have a Special Educational Need such as a learning need or social interaction need. Going to school every day may feel difficult especially when your needs are not being well understood or supported.

Signs you may be feeling anxious about school:

  • not wanting to get up and get ready
  • saying you can’t go
  • worrying a lot about things such as having the right equipment for a lesson
  • feeling sick, or having stomach aches or headaches
  • not sleeping well
  • not doing schoolwork, or grades dropping
  • being angry or upset – at school or at home
  • withdrawing – feeling low, quiet or depressed 

What to do if you’re feeling worried about school

Sometimes it can be difficult to work out why you feel anxious. The first step is to speak to an adult you trust about what’s worrying you. Once you understand the problem, you’ll be in a much better place to make changes that can help.

NHS Greater Manchester Integrated Care commissions Kooth to provide free online counselling for children and young people aged 11 to 18 years. Kooth offers a variety of support, including:

  • A live chat function that allows young people to contact a qualified counsellor
  • Chat forums with other young people
  • Crisis information
  • Self-help resources

It provides information and support along with treatment for children and young people with a range of mental health problems. Scheduled and drop in counselling sessions are available 365 days a year and include slots at evenings and weekends.

The charity Young Minds has lots of advice for young people on mental health.

They also have a guide for parents which you may find helpful to look at for ideas on what could be done differently at school to help you feel better. 

The charity MIND also offers advice.

This page was last updated on 21 September 2023

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