When Panic Attacks

Grades 6-12
The issues: Anxiety, negative body image, social media


Introduction: Tony is walking around the halls filming himself in a vlog he has titled “High School Confessions”. He poses social media nightmare scenarios and asks his classmates to choose which scenario is worse. While filming, he bumps into one of his favorite teachers, Mr. Lewis, who urges Tony’s fans to stop watching and make better use of their time. Tony acknowledges that although social media can be fun, it also has its downsides.

Scene One: Lily shares her experience using Instagram to stay connected to her friends and to follow fashion and make-up tutorials. The models make her feel insecure about her body, and the make-up never looks right when she tries it. Her friends also seem to look better in photos and wear more fashionable clothes. After letting negative voices make her feel that she was not enough, Lily decides to spend less time on Instagram and more time face to face with friends.

Scene Two: Tony explains how he became preoccupied with his social media presence. He feels like his value is determined by how many likes and positive comments his content receives. The time and pressure spent creating, maintaining, and watching content starts to take a toll on Tony’s sleep quality and school work. With the help of his parents and friends, Tony deletes TikTok and Instagram and limits his time on other social media apps.

Scene Three: Abby recalls a time when she had an anxiety attack in the middle of a class presentation. She always feels left out among her classmates who post about all of their experiences without her. Her brother’s drug addiction pulls all of her parents’ attention, leading her to feel that her growing anxiety does not matter enough to seek professional help. As a coping mechanism, Abby tries self-harm through cutting to silence the negative voices in her head, but it only makes the voices worse. The anxiety attack she had in class leads the school nurse to call 911 while walking her through a grounding exercise to calm her down. Abby is diagnosed with “Generalized Anxiety Disorder” by a therapist and receives the treatment she needs to cope.

Scene Four: Chris relives a terrible decision he made under peer pressure at a party. During a game of Truth or Dare, some older students dare him to post an unflattering photo he took of a classmate, without her knowledge, on Snapchat. The post makes it way around and gets Chris called into the school counselors office. The counselor conducts a restorative circle process with everyone involved.

Conclusion: The students and Nurse Blanchard make a health class presentation about anxiety. They list the signs of anxiety and statistics that spending too much time on social media can lead to a higher risk of developing anxiety, depression, and negative body image. Students should think before posting, reach out for help if they are experiencing signs of anxiety, and reduce the amount of time they spend online.

Bring a Saltworks play to your students and watch them use their imagination to resolve conflict, reach out for new healthy relationships, and discover hope for their lives!