Guardian has an interesting article on the incidence of anxiety in young people, quoting the statistic that 79% are anxious in starting a new school. My alter ego, Quaestor, posted this comment:
Many of us experience anxiety in new situations, and I'm happy to admit that I'm one of them. If, in fact, it amounts to 79% of children starting a new school, this is no great surprise.
No one, though, is claiming that 79% of children are mentally ill. So, the work that is needed is not sensationalism, but a thorough examination of the scale and nature of the problem. If the pattern is one of anxiety escalating into mental illness, rather than diminishing over time as it does for most of us, then we need to know what causes the escalation, and how we can prevent it.
I've put forward the idea that continuous assessment is a major source of anxiety, based on very close observation of pupils I've worked with, and my personal experience of it at university. It is also fairly well established that some people become very anxious at final assessments. I dare say nearly everyone experiences some anxiety taking a driving test, though some people may not. What we need is some properly conducted research, by which I mean research carried out by people who do not start from their conclusion, if such can be found.
Stem4, the site mentioned in the article, offers an interesting analysis of current evidence, and practical advice.