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Anxiety Coping Mechanisms and Youth Engagement: Insights from Washington State

A young woman feeling anxious, resting against a piece of furniture

Everyone copes with anxiety in their own way, and youth, in particular, navigate their unique strategies. Amidst the whirlwind of adolescence and the uncertainties of teenage years, anxiety becomes a constant companion, intertwining with hormonal shifts and futures yet to be written. Indeed, the teenage experience isn’t always as glamorous as portrayed in the media. While negative coping mechanisms unfortunately do exist, there are also many positive approaches to managing these feelings. Today, we’ll delve into these constructive methods and examine how the US state of Washington encourages its youngsters to take an active role in their mental well-being. So, shall we begin?

What is anxiety?

According to the National Library of Medicine’s MedlinePlus, anxiety is one of the most common human experiences; feelings of fear, unease, and apprehension characterize it. Also, it can manifest in various physical symptoms, such as unnatural sweating, general restlessness, and a rapid heartbeat.

While it can be a natural response to stressors like professional challenges, various school tests, or decision-making, anxiety can also serve as a coping mechanism, providing a surge of energy or enhanced focus. However, we shouldn’t be too quick to label anxiety as something positive, as the feelings above are persistent in people with anxiety disorders and can become overwhelming, impacting their daily lives and well-being en général.

Unknown cause of anxiety

Yes, the exact cause of anxiety remains elusive. Yet, we can name several factors that contribute to its development: genetics, brain biology and chemistry, stress levels, and, of course, environmental influences. All of these variables combined and intertwined shape the individual’s experience (or experiences) with anxiety.

Three main types of anxiety disorders

We can outline the three main types of anxiety disorders:

  • Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). Excessive worry about everyday concerns lasting at least half a year.
  • Panic disorder. Sudden episodes of intensified fear without any actual threat; commonly known as panic attacks.
  • Various phobias. Extreme fear of certain objects or situations, like spiders, flying, crowds, or social interactions (also known as social anxiety).

Why are teens particularly susceptible to feelings of anxiety?

Teens (and young adolescents, too) often have to deal with heightened anxiety due to various stressors. We’re talking about peer pressure, academic expectations, or exposure to media; all of this amplifies their vulnerability to anxiety.

Anxiety manifests in several ways among teens, affecting their eating, sleeping, and social behaviors, and can lead to irritability, withdrawal, poor academic performance, and mood swings. Many teens are having some trouble managing daily tasks effectively; some of them might turn to substance use as a coping mechanism. If left unaddressed, this can lead to the development of addiction and further issues.

Okay, so now that we’ve covered the basics, it’s time to check out how the US state of Washington empowers its young ones to manage their anxiety.

Insights from Washington State on anxiety coping mechanisms and youth engagement

Let’s check out the resources Washington State has to offer in its battle against anxiety among the youth.

Teen Link

Here we have a Crisis Connections (Washington’s own crisis telephone service provider) program serving youth in Washington State. Teen Link provides a non-judgmental listening ear for teens and other youth facing various (daily) challenges. Whether we’re talking about bullying, substance use, relationship issues, stress, depression, or other anxiety-related issues, no matter how big or small, Teen Link is there to help out. Over the years, this has proved to be an effective mechanism in battling teen mental health issues.

Mental Health Matters Washington

Another youth initiative we have here is Mental Health Matters of Washington. It focuses on youth mental health through tailored programming aimed at breaking the stigma associated with mental health issues such as anxiety disorders and promoting open dialogue.

Led by the MHM of Washington State Youth Advisory Group and youth Peer Mental Health Navigators, their initiatives encourage young people to shape mental health discussions and advocate for their well-being. Through events like virtual dialogues and community conferences, they engage youth in addressing mental health challenges and prioritizing mental well-being.

Washington State Anxiety Treatment Centers

Addressing anxiety by seeking help is often crucial for enhancing overall well-being and quality of life. In terms of effective anxiety treatment, many WA treatment centers are at your disposal. Regular treatment for anxiety disorder usually involves psychotherapy, medication, or a mixture of both. Psychotherapy, such as CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy), addresses specific anxieties and teaches various coping skills to patients undergoing treatment. Medications like benzodiazepines or antidepressants may alleviate symptoms but should be carefully managed due to potential dependence. Support groups and stress management techniques are also available to complement treatment.

How to help out a young person with an anxiety disorder?

Even though there are plenty of resources available to young people dealing with anxiety disorders in the US state of Washington, there are still many ways you (as an individual) can help out a youngster battling these issues. Whether it’s your child or a friend (or a friend’s child), you should remember these tips to reduce anxiety in your loved ones.

Talk to them

Encourage them to express their feelings and validate their emotions. You should avoid dismissing or fixing their worries; simply feeling listened to helps. For younger children, have them draw their anxiety, while teens can create a mind map of their feelings.

Help them eliminate stimulants

If they consume stimulants, limiting their intake of alcohol and caffeinated drinks, such as coffee, can be more than beneficial. These substances have the potential to boost physical symptoms associated with anxiety we’ve mentioned above.

If needed, speak to a professional

Some children and young people may require professional assistance. Mental health professionals can provide tailored diagnoses and treatment options (such as talk therapy).


Now you know that navigating anxiety can be a challenging journey, particularly for youth, whether they’re located in Washington State or anywhere else. However, through innovative anxiety coping mechanisms and dedicated youth initiatives, Washington State is nurturing an environment where young individuals can feel supported. By understanding basic anxiety facts and engaging in open dialogue, we can continue to break down barriers and provide the necessary support for individuals grappling with mental health challenges.