Anxiety is one of the most commonly experienced mental health issues facing sexually exploited youth, resulting from a myraid of factors of both past and present life experience. When working with sexually exploited youth it is helpful to assess whether the youth is in either "fight, flight or freeze." Any of these reactions to stress is typical and will include:

  • Irritability
  • Restlessness
  • Watching for signs of danger
  • Physical and Verbal altercations
  • Feelings of apprehension or dread
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Feeling tense and jumpy
  • Procrastination
  • Tremors and twitches
  • Muscle tension
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue
  • Insomnia
  • Pounding heart
  • Sweating
  • Stomach upset or dizziness
  • Avoidance of people and places

If the youth's symptoms are not severe enough to refer to a mental health professional, or while you are waiting for services, there are several evidence based strategies to support youth to reduce anxiety.

·         Refer youth to anxiety.bc which provides education and self-help intervention strategies

·         Encourage mindfulness, meditation, and self-compassion. Incorporate these practices into your work with youth so they have the opportunity to see them in action and try what works for them.

·         Encourage yoga and other forms of physical activity.

·         Try to encourage more nutritious eating and overall health

·         Role model and teach communication and healthy ways to cope with emotions and stress