Workshop helps teachers address issues of anxiety in schools

Life Education Trust has launched Nurturing Healthy Minds, a series of practical workshops for primary and secondary school teachers.

The workshops recognise that teachers are often the first port of call for families who are concerned about their child’s emotional wellbeing or behaviour.

Based on the feedback received following a successful series of professional development (PD) workshops in 2021 for teachers called Healthy Minds: Unpacking Anxiety, Life Education Trust has designed these teacher-focused workshops to equip teachers with practical skills to support students with anxiety in the classroom.

According to Chief Executive John O’Connell the issue of anxiety in school students has been on the rise for some years now, and the feedback he gets from educators, principals and teachers reflects the commentary of other people and agencies working in this sector.

“With so much disruption in schools over the last 12 months, teachers are dealing with a range of  behaviour as students struggle to cope.”

“Teachers play an enormously important role in supporting students with anxiety, but many teachers tell us that they need to better understand anxiety and how to help their students feel safe and comfortable.

“Alongside poverty and the increasing inequities of basic living, children are also seeing global events unfold as they happen with livestreams to phones and other devices, without the ability to process these adult concepts. Unfortunately, there’s no turning off what they see and hear, and those things along with social and economic pressures come to school with them every day,” says O’Connell.

Cat_LevineFacilitator Cat Levine

Hosted by experienced facilitator Cat Levine, with content and advice from Anxiety New Zealand National Manager, Goldie Hamilton, and Autism New Zealand, the workshops are designed to be convenient, informative, and interactive.

“Anxiety is a normal human emotion, and all children experience it, however some children feel worried or anxious so often that it interferes with their day-to-day life. This workshop aims to give teachers skills and practical strategies that can support anxious children,” says Levine.


Focussing on these classroom management techniques includes supporting children with autism so teachers can continue to improve their understanding and create a positive learning environment for all children in their class.

Feedback from teachers who have experienced the workshop has so far been positive. Teachers acknowledged that days can be challenging with a diverse group of tamariki, and the practical skills and support from the workshop were appreciated and encouraging.

“This is the training that every teacher needs! It should be compulsory. We are dealing with these issues every single day and as a classroom teacher, we haven’t got the understanding to deal with it,” says Julie Rich, Learning Support Coordinator, Hutt International Boys’ School.

Life Education Trust expects more than 700 teachers and support staff will participate in the 22 workshops on offer.

Read more about Nurturing Healthy Minds