Some of those parents who don’t think they have an anxiety disorder in the family will come up to me
at the end of the seminar and say
“you know what, I think my child may have an anxiety disorder.”
– Julie Leitch, Small Steps Educator.
Small Steps is a program that aims to raise awareness and improve the recognition of anxiety disorders in children.
The program offers anxiety disorders awareness seminars for primary school teachers and parents to help educate them on the signs, symptoms, types and treatments for anxiety in young people.
Facilitated by WayAhead Educator Julie Leitch, who has had her own experience living with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Small Steps was developed to ensure that anxiety disorders are recognised early in primary school so that correct treatment can be offered.
With 1 in 10 Australian’s under the age of 18 living with an anxiety disorder, early diagnosis is very important in ensuring that those individuals have the best possible education experience.
One of Julie’s key goals in Small Steps is to “get treatment for children in primary school, not going to high school with an anxiety disorder and certainly not waiting until you’re in your twenties.”
The sessions run for approximately an hour and a half, and can be conducted before, during or after school. Many schools like to run this workshop for teachers during staff meetings or on professional development days.
In 2015, WayAhead ran 108 seminars in schools. That is 786 teachers and 1761 parents who now have a better understanding of anxiety in children, how it commonly presents and where they can go for help.
Mental health, especially mental health in young people can be a confusing topic. Parents and teachers have expressed their appreciation of Small Steps as a straight forward way of learning about anxiety disorders in children.
One parent wrote “Well presented, well related, anxiety discussion can be quite anxiety causing. The presenter (Julie) handed the discussion in a positive, informative and enjoyable way.”
Small Steps seminars also provide teachers and parents with the knowledge and access to resources that may help them in identifying and helping children who display the signs of an anxiety disorder and this is often one of the most popular aspects of the session.
Michele Sunnucks, Principal of St Therese’s, Lakemba wrote to say that “The session was very informative and we are keen to continue a working relationship with Small Steps…the resources you made available to us are also very gratefully received, because they empower us to act in an appropriate and beneficial way following concerns about students…Knowing the statistics of anxiety Disorders in the community, and wondering how much higher they may be when we include undiagnosed sufferers, certainly indicates to me that all school would benefit enormously from the Small Steps Program.”
Small Steps seminars are a community service run by WayAhead – Mental Health Association NSW.
You can find out more by visiting: understandinganxiety.wayahead.org.au/primary-school-seminars