Children’s Mental Health Awareness Week: Math anxiety can degrade performance of school high achievers, says study

Children’s Mental Health Awareness Week: Math anxiety can degrade performance of school high achievers, says study

In general, anxiety is just a normal reaction to different life circumstances. But, when the child’s ordinary fear develops into feelings that interfere with his/her routine activities, such as performance at school, sports or relationships, it could probably indicate children anxiety disorder (CAD).

A recent study titled, “The Math Anxiety-Performance Link: A Global Phenomenon,” examined the connection between anxiety and the subject math. Conducted by the University of Chicago and published in the journal Current Directions in Psychological Science, the study found how anxiety dragged down the performance of a student was directly proportional to the way he/she performed at math in school. The study termed this as math anxiety.

Math anxiety can degrade performance

The study findings were based on the data available for 40 different laboratory experiments along with the analysis of data collected by the Program in International Student Assessments. This program provides standardized math tests to 15-year-old students around the world.

Alana Foley, a postdoctoral fellow in psychology and co-author of the study, said, “Math anxiety is disrupting these students’ ability to fulfill their potential. Even though they’re still doing better than kids who are overall performing lower, they’re not performing as well as they could because they have math anxiety.”

The researchers also reviewed the behavioral and neuroimaging studies to understand the reason behind anxiety’s powerful and universal impact. “The students who normally do really well have a large capacity to hold information in their minds and use advanced strategies that require a lot of cognitive resources. But when they’re math anxious, the anxiety and the emotion system of the brain interfere with their ability to hold onto information, so they end up performing much worse than they otherwise would if they weren’t anxious,” said Foley.

The other co-author of the study, Sian Beilock, professor of psychology at the Stella M. Rowley Professor of Psychology observed that writing down one’s feelings before taking a test can be a simple, yet effective strategy to curb the effects of math anxiety on high performing students.

Creating awareness about CAD

CAD is one of the most common psychiatric disorders to be diagnosed in the United States. The disorder makes the child behave inappropriately at school due to his/her inability to cope with the excessive study pressure and expectations of the teachers. It also affects the child’s thinking ability, the way he/she reacts in a particular situation and also causes sleeplessness, stomachaches, headaches, irritability and tiredness in the child.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), approximately 25.1 percent children in the age group of 13 and 18 years have a lifetime prevalence of anxiety disorders. In light of these statistics, it gets crucial to spread awareness about CAD. Therefore, the National Federation of Families for Children’s Mental Health (NFFCMH) organizes the National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Week annually to raise awareness about the children’s growing mental health issues in the country as well as the emotional, behavioral or mental health needs of children and their families. This year, the week will be observed from May 03 to May 09, 2017.

Professional support

Providing the right kind of psychological and professional support to kids dealing with anxiety disorders can help in curbing its development. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), practicing meditation and yoga can also prove beneficial.

The best way to cope up with the symptoms of children’s anxiety is seeking help from a specialized mental health center. Sovereign Health can assist you with the information about the right ways to help kids with anxiety disorders. If you would like to connect with one of the best mental health treatment centers in Los Angeles or some other part of the U.S. call our 24/7 helpline number 866-973-7164. You can even chat online with our experts to get complete information about the best mental health facilities in Los Angeles.

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