What is the Prevalence of Social Anxiety Disorder Among Adolescents in Ireland? How Does it Impact their Lives and How Do Schools Address it?


  • Ciara Raleigh


Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD), Adolescence, Prevalence, School Refusal Behaviour, School Interventions


Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD) is the most common anxiety disorder encountered in adolescence. The purpose of this study was to determine the prevalence of SAD among adolescents in Ireland, how it impacts on their lives and to examine what supports are in place in schools to address it. The findings suggest that social anxiety is highly prevalent among adolescents who participated in this study and it has a significant impact on both their academic and personal lives. It also found that most teachers who participated are not confident in identifying or supporting students with social anxiety.


Adelman, H. S., and Taylor, L. (1999) Mental Health in Schools and System Restructuring. Clinical Psychology Review, Vol. 19 (2), pp. 137–163.

American Psychiatric Association. (2013) Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (5th ed.). Washington: American Psychiatric Association.

Baker-Smith, K. and Moore, K.A. (2015) Early Onset of Social Anxiety: Impact on Erikson’s Stages of Psychosocial Development. In Moore, K.A. (Ed.) Relationships: Their Impact on Social and Metal Wellbeing, Australian Psychological Society, pp.19-23.

Beidel, D.C., Turner, S.M. and Young, B.J. (2006) Social Effectiveness Therapy for Children: Five Years Later. Behaviour Therapy, Vol. 37 (4), pp. 416-425.

Beidel, D. C., Alfano, C. A., Kofler, M. J., Rao, P. A., Scharfstein, L., and Wong, N. (2014) The Impact of Social Skills Training for Social Anxiety Disorder: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Journal of Anxiety Disorders, Vol. 28 (8), pp. 908–918.

BERA (2011) Ethical Guidelines for Educational Research. London: Author

Blöte, A. W., Kint, M. J. W., and Westenberg, P. M. (2007) Peer Behaviour Toward Socially Anxious Adolescents: Classroom Observations. Behaviour Research and Therapy, Vol. 45 (11), pp. 2773–2779.

Blöte, A. W., Miers,A. C., Heyne, D. A., and Westenberg, P. M. (2015) Social Anxiety and The

School Environment of Adolescents. In Ranta, K., La Greca, A.M., Garcia-Lopez, L.J., and Marttunen, M. (Eds.) Social Anxiety and Phobia in Adolescents: Development, Manifestation and Intervention Strategies, Cham, Switzerland: Springer International Publishing, pp. 151-181.

Bronfennbrener, U. (1994) Ecological Models of Human Development International Encyclopedia of Education, Vol. 3, 2nd Ed. Oxford, Elsevier.

Brook, C.A. and Schmidt, L. (2008) Social Anxiety Disorder: A Review of Environmental Risk Factors, Neuropsychiatric Disease and Treatment, Vol. 4(1) pp. 123-143.

Cartwright-Hattohasn, S., Roberts, C., Chitsabesan, P., Fothergill, C. and Harrington, R. (2004) Systematic Review of the Efficacy of Cognitive Behaviour Therapies for Childhood and Adolescent Anxiety Disorders, British Journal of Clinical Psychology, Vol. 43(4), pp. 421-36.

Caouette, J. D., and Guyer, A. E. (2014) Gaining Insight into Adolescent Vulnerability for Social Anxiety from Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience. Developmental cognitive neuroscience, Vol. 8, pp. 65-76.

Clauss, J. A., and Blackford, J. U. (2012) Behavioral Inhibition and Riskf For Developing Social

Anxiety Disorder: A Meta-Analytic Study. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Vol. 51 (10), pp. 1066-1075.

Cohen, L., Manion, L., and Morrison, K. (2011) Research Methods in Education (7th edition).

Oxon: Routledge.

Dooley, B.A. and Fitzgerald, A. (2012) My World Survey; National Study of Youth Mental Health in Ireland, Available at: http://www.ucd.ie/t4cms/MyWorldSurvey.pdf, [Accessed on 30th Jan. 2018]

Dooley, B. (2018) Press Release in Response to the Review of Guidance and Counselling announced by the Minister for Education and Skills. Available at: from http://www.igc.ie/Events_Publications/IGC-Press-Releases, [Accessed on 26th Mar. 2018].

Greco L.A. and Morris, T.L. (2005) Factors Influencing the Link between Social Anxiety and Peer Acceptance: Contributions of Social Skills and Close Friendships During Middle Childhood. Behaviour Therapy. Vol. 36 (2), pp.197–205.

Harvey, B. (2008). Tomorrow’s Child, Dublin: Barnardos.

Heiser, N. A., Turner, S. M., Beidel, D. C., and Roberson-Nay, R. (2009) Differentiating Social Phobia from Shyness. Journal of Anxiety Disorders, Vol. 23(4), pp. 469-476.

Hoganbruen, K., Clauss-Ehlers, C., Nelson, D. and Faenza, M. M. (2003) Effective Advocacy for School-Based Mental Health Programs. In Weist, M.D., Evans, S.W., and Lever, N.A. (Eds.) Issues in Clinical Child Psychology. Handbook of School Mental Health: Advancing Practice and Research, New York: Kluwer Academic/Plenum Publishers, pp.45-59.

Irish Primary Principal’s Network (IPPN) (2017) IPPN Report. Available at: https://www.ippn.ie/index.php/advocacy/press-releases/7197-26th-january2017-bullying-levels-down-but-children-s-emotional-wellbeing-is-still-under-threat, [Accessed on 10th March 2017].

Kearney, C.A. and Albano, A.M. (2004) The Functional Profiles of School Refusal Behavior. Diagnostic Aspects. Behaviour Modification, Vol. 28 (1), pp. 147-161.

Kittinger, R., Correia, C.J. and Irons, J.G (2012) Relationship Between Facebook Use and Problematic Internet Use Among College Students. Journal of Cyberpsychology, Behaviour and Social Networking, Vol. 15 (6), pp. 324-327.

Kley, H., Tuschen-Caffier, B., and Heinrichs, N. (2011) Safety Behaviors, Self-Focused Attention and Negative Thinking in Children with Social Anxiety Disorder, Socially Anxious and Non Anxious Children. Journal of Behaviour Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry, Vol. 43 (1), pp. 548-555.

Lin, L.Y., Shensa, A., Radovic, A., Miller, E., Colditz, J.B., Hoffman, B.L., Giles, L.M. and Primack, B.A. (2016) Association Between Social Media Use and Depression Among US Young Adults. Journal of Depression and Anxiety, Vol.33 (4), pp. 323-331.

Martin, M., Carr, A., Burke, L., Carroll, L., Byrne, S. (2006) The Clonmel Project: Mental Health Service Needs of Children and Adolescents in the South East of Ireland. Available at: http://www.lenus.ie/hse/, [Accessed on 31st Jan. 2018].

Masia-Warner, C. Klein, R.G., Dent, H.C., Fisher, P.H., Alvir, J., Albano, A.M., and Guardino, M. (2005) School-Based Intervention for Adolescents with Social Anxiety Disorder: Results of a Controlled Study, Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, Vol. 33 (6), pp. 707-722.

Masia-Warner, C., Colognori, D., Brice, C., and Sanchez A. (2015) School-Based Interventions for Adolescents with Social Anxiety Disorder. In Ranta, K., Garcia-Lopez, A.M., , La Greca, L.A., and Marttunen, M. (Eds.) Social Anxiety and Phobia in Adolescents Development, Manifestation and Intervention Strategies, Springer, pp. 271-287.

Miers, A. C., Blote, A. W., and Westenberg, P. (2010) Peer Perceptions of Social Skills in Socially

Anxious and Non-Anxious Adolescents. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, Vol. 38 (1), pp. 33-41.

Mills, A.J., Durepos, G. & Wiebe, E. (2010) Encyclopedia of Case Study Research Instrumental Case Study, Thousand Oaks: SAGE Publications.

NCCA (2017) Guidelines for Wellbeing in Junior Cycle 2017, National Council for Curriculum and Assessment, Ireland.

Nelemans, S.A., Meeus, W.H.J., Branje, S.J.T, Van Leeuwen, k., Colpin, H., Verschueren, K. and Goossens, L. (2017) Social Anxiety Scale for Adolescents (SAS-A) Short Form: Longitudinal Measurement Invariance in Two Community Samples of Youth, Available at: Sage Journals, https://doi.org/10.1177/1073191116685808, [Accessed on 21st Jan 2018].

Newby, P. (2014) Research Methods for Education, London: Routledge. Olfson, M., Guardino, M., Struening, E., Schneier, FR., Hellman, F., and Klen, DF. (2000) Barriers to the Treatment of Social Anxiety. American Journal of Psychiatry, Vol. 157 (4), pp 521-7.

Ollendick, T.H. and Hirshfeld-Becker, D.R. (2002) The Developmental Psychopathology of Social Anxiety Disorder. Biological Psychiatry, Vol. 51(1), pp. 44-58.

Poston, B. (2009) Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, The Surgical Technologist, pp. 347-353.

Prizant-Passal, S., Shechner, T. and Aderka, I. (2016) Social Anxiety and Internet Use – A Meta-Analysis: What Do We Know? What Are We Missing? Computers in Human Behavior. Vol. 62. pp. 221-229.

Ranta, K., Kaltiala-Heino, R., Pelkonen, M. and Marttunen, M. (2009) Associations Between Peer Victimization, Self-Reported Depression and Social Phobia Among Adolescents: The Role of Comorbidity. Journal of Adolescence, Vol. 32(1), pp.77-93.

Ranta, K. Junttila, N., Laakkonen, E., Uhmavaara, A., La Greca, A.M., and Niemi, P.M. (2012) Social Anxiety Scale for Adolescents (SAS-A): Measuring Social Anxiety Among Finnish adolescents. Child Psychiatry and Human Development, Vol. 43(4), pp. 574-91.

Rapee, R. M. (2014) Preschool Environment and Temperament as Predictors of Social and Non-Social Anxiety Disorders In Middle Adolescence. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Vol. 53 (3), pp.320-328.

Rapee, R.M. and Spence, S.H. (2004) The Etiology of Social Phobia: Empirical Evidence and an Initial Model. Clinical Psychology Review, Vol. 24 (7), pp.737-767.

Ryan, J.L., and Masia-Warner, C. (2012) Treating Adolescents with Social Anxiety Disorder in Schools, Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Clinics, Vol. 21 (1) pp. 105-118.

Schreiber, F. and Steil, R. (2012) Haunting Self-Images? The Role of Negative Self-Images in Adolescent Social Anxiety Disorder, Journal of Behaviour Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry, Vol. 44 (2), pp.158-164.

Schurgin O’Keefe, G., Clarke-Pearson, K, Council on Communications and Media (2011) The Impact of Social Media on Children, Adolescents, and Families. American Academy of Paediatrics, Vol. 127, Issue 4.

Shaw, A. M., Timpano, K. R., Tran, T. B., and Joormann, J. (2015) Correlates of Facebook Usage Patterns: The Relationship Between Passive Facebook Use, Social Anxiety Symptoms, and Brooding. Computers in Human Behavior, Vol.48, pp. 575-580. doi: 10.1016/j.chb.2015.02.003.

Shevlin, M., Winter, E., and Flynn, P. (2013) Developing Inclusive Practice: Teacher Perceptions of Opportunities and Constraints in The Republic Of Ireland. International Journal of Inclusive Education, Vol. 17 (10), pp.1119-1133.

Siegel, S.R. and Dickstein, D.P. (2011) Anxiety in Adolescents: Update on its Diagnosis and Treatment for Primary Care Providers, Journal of Adolescent Health, Medicine and Therapeutics, Vol. 3, pp.1-16.

Spence, H.S. and Rapee, R.M. (2016) The Etiology of Social Anxiety Disorder: An Evidence-Based Model, Journal of Behaviour Research and Therapy, Vol. 86, pp.50-67.

Schurgin O’Keefe, G., Clarke-Pearson, K, Council on Communications and Media (2011) The Impact of Social Media on Children, Adolescents, and Families. American Academy of Paediatrics, Vol. 127 (4), pp. 800-4. Social Anxiety Ireland, Available to: www.socialanxietyireland.com, [Accessed on 03rd Jan. 2018].

Step Out Ireland, Available at: www.stepoutireland.com, [Accessed on 03rd Jan. 2018].

Sweeney, C., Warner, C. M., Brice, C., Stewart, C., Ryan, J., Loeb, K. L., and McGrath, R. E. (2015) Identification of Social Anxiety in Schools: The Utility of a Two-Step Screening Process. Contemporary School Psychology, Vol. 19(4), pp. 268–275.

Tassin, C., Reynaert, C., Jacques, D. and Zdanowicz, N. (2014) Anxiety Disorders in Adolescence, Psychiatria Danubina, Vol.26 (1), pp. 27-30.

Warren, S. L., and Sroufe, L. A. (2004) Developmental Issues. In Ollendick , T.H., and March, J.S. (Eds.) Phobic and Anxiety Disorders in Children and Adolescents: A Clinician’s Guide to Effective Psychosocial and Pharmacological Interventions (pp. 92-115). New York, NY, US: Oxford University Press.

Westenberg, P. M., Drewes, M. J., Goedhart, A. W., Siebelink, B. M., and Treffers, P. D. A. (2004) A Developmental Analysis of Self-Reported Fears in Late Childhood Through Mid-Adolescence: Social-Evaluative Fears on the Rise? Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, Vol. 45 (3), pp.481-495.

Winett, R.A. (1998) Prevention: A Proactive Developmental-Ecological Perspective. In Ollendick, T.H., Hersen, M. (Eds.), Handbook of Child Psychopathology (3rd ed) New York: Plenum Press, pp. 637-671.




How to Cite

Raleigh, C. (2021). What is the Prevalence of Social Anxiety Disorder Among Adolescents in Ireland? How Does it Impact their Lives and How Do Schools Address it?. REACH: Journal of Inclusive Education in Ireland, 33(1), 13–30. Retrieved from https://reachjournal.ie/index.php/reach/article/view/5