PSHE KS4: Nick - Living with anxiety

Advisory: Contains material of a sensitive nature

30 year-old Nick from Northampton describes what it is like to live with anxiety and the fear of seeking help.

Nick has had underlying anxiety for many years but it became worse after his wife was hospitalised for depression, following two miscarriages.

Nick describes how he is worried about opening up about his anxiety because he fears being judged, but now realises that it’s ok for men to be open about their feelings.

Teacher Notes

  • This film is suitable for 14-16 year olds, but because it addresses some challenging issues we strongly advise making yourself very familiar with the content before using it and considering carefully whether it will be appropriate and suitable for your specific cohort.

  • Check class records to see if any of your class have any mental health issues or have personal/lived experience of the topics raised, and consider the best action/support for them in advance.

  • Check Government guidance on teaching about mental health along with your school policies to make sure you follow these guidelines/protocols and talk to a member of the SLT if you are in doubt about anything before you teach.

  • Whether you choose to lead a discussion, do an activity or a combination of both, always start your session by setting up a working agreement with the class. Creating a list of rules will make sure everyone feels safe and able to talk and join in without being judged.

Points for discussion

  • At the beginning of the film Nick says, ‘Men, they don’t cry, they are that big guy, that alpha male kind of image that they need to show…’ Why do many of us feel we have to maintain an image that we are strong and in control? Is it just men who feel they must have a certain image in society? Allow time to debate this.

  • Nick says, ‘My biggest problem is anxiety. It can be anything, absolutely everything…’ What is anxiety? Have you ever felt anxious? Can you describe how it makes you feel? What helped it? (Before the lesson search for a reputable website or charity to explain what anxiety is and the warning signs that it might be becoming a problem.)

  • Thinking about what Nick says in the film, ask them what could be the signs that anxiety might be becoming a problem? (E.g. happening regularly about lots of different things.) How would it feel to be worrying all the time? What would day to day life be like? (They could also think about Matthew/Jamo here too if they have seen his film as he also lives with anxiety - he says ‘bad days I won’t want to leave the house, I don’t want to do anything.’)

Suggested activities:

  • We have phrases that are commonly used in day-to-day language but can be quite damaging. Nick mentions a couple in the film ‘men (boys) don’t cry’ and ‘man up’. Why is this not helpful? (For men and for all genders.) Can the class think of other examples of gender stereotyping that are not helpful? Explore what gender stereotyping is. They can create a graffiti wall exploring this further and reflecting on how these statements make them and others feel. ‘When I hear this/people say this to me it makes me feel…’

  • Rob and Nick are having a conversation in the film and Nick is saying how much he is scared and worried about his wife, Sarah. Rob talks about how important it is to look after ourselves if we are worried about a friend or family member. He says, ‘We need to look after ourselves first because if we don’t look after ourselves, we can’t look after anybody else.’ Before this he asks Nick, ‘Do you have any time on your own where you sit and think about, I don’t know, mental check?’ How do the class think some time alone could help with anxiety and worries? Discuss as a class and write their ideas on a board. Handout pens and large paper and get the class to work in groups and think about all the different ways someone could look after themselves if they are caring for other people. (E.g. taking some time out to do fun things or something they enjoy, having quiet time to check in with themselves, walking or sports, creative tasks, listening to music, talking to someone else about how they are feeling or getting support from a doctor or counsellor, etc.)

  • At the end of the discussion/activity, always check in with the group to make sure they are OK, revisit the working agreement and remind them to talk to someone if anything they have seen in the film or discussed has made them feel uncomfortable. Finally, always signpost where they can get further support or information both within and outside of school. ChildLine is there for people right up to the age of 19 for support. Students can also find out more about Heads Together and find links to further support on their Get support page.)

Curriculum Notes

These lessons will fit within: Relationships Education, Relationships and Sex Education (RSE) and Health Education in England
Curriculum for Wales, Health and wellbeing in Wales
The Curriculum for Excellence, Health and wellbeing in Scotland
Northern Ireland Curriculum, Learning for life and work in Northern Ireland

More from this series:

Rob: Living with bereavement
Matthew: Living with anxiety
Joe Hart: Managing the pressures of the Premier League
Marvin Sordell: Living with depression
HRH The Duke of Cambridge’s Mental Health Campaign