Back to school anxiety: Q&A with a Rogers expert

Posted on 10/08/21 11:20:am


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Fall is a time of transition. Change and new routines can sometimes cause feelings of uncertainty. When it comes to kids returning to school, especially amid a pandemic, it can be difficult for parents to discern whether their child is dealing with normal emotions or there are signs of an anxiety disorder.

“Anxiety is an emotion all of us experience,” says Amanda Heins, PsyD, supervising psychologist for OCD and Anxiety Center Adolescent Residential Care at Rogers Behavioral Health in Oconomowoc. “It’s a normal response to something stressful which usually passes. Anxiety can become a problem when our stress response gets confused and continually perceives there’s a threat or danger that’s not truly a threat,” she says.

Dr. Heins explains different types of anxiety disorders:

  • Social anxiety: A person is anxious in social situations and has excessive fear of being negatively evaluated.
  • Generalized anxiety: A person is overwhelmed with “what if” thoughts and daily functioning is impaired.
  • Phobia: A person has a strong fear of something specific like heights or spiders which creates a sense of anxiety.
  • Panic: A person experiences an unexpected panic attack and fears having more.

She adds that although obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is not formally categorized under an anxiety disorder, OCD oftentimes accompanies anxiety.

How Rogers can help

Dr. Heins suggests the Anxiety in schools podcast on Rogers’ website for additional information and resources for parents and school professionals.

Hear more in the video above, including a common pitfall parents should avoid in talking with kids about anxiety.

Rogers offers evidence-based treatment and compassionate care for children, adolescents, and adults. You can call 800-767-4411 for a free, confidential screening for inpatient, residential, or outpatient care in Brown Deer, Oconomowoc, or West Allis, or 888-927-2203 for treatment at one of our other locations. A screening can also be requested online.

Call 800-767-4411 or go to to request a free screening.