Originally posted in the Healthy Place Mental Health Newsletter online.
What is school like for children and adolescents living with mental health challenges? For youth who live with mental illness such as mood disorders, anxiety disorders, ADHD, eating disorders or more, school can be a nightmare. For the parents and caregivers of these kids, the school experience can also be dreadful (My Mentally Ill Child and School Refusal).
Mental illness can be frightening in and of itself; throw in a whole new system of classmates, teachers, learning, rules, and routine to navigate, and fear and frustration can skyrocket. This can exacerbate the existing symptoms of mental illness as well as lead to other challenges involving thoughts, emotions, and behaviors.
Improving the School Experience for Kids with Mental Illness
An important ingredient for a successful school year is understanding. When parents and kids work together to understand their specific mental health challenges, not only does the child better understand what he’s dealing with, but he feels heard. Learning together, as a team, how to cope with mental illness and school helps give kids the love and connection they need to develop proper tools to handle school (Mental Health in the Classroom). Further, communicating with the school can increase the team effect. Mental illness can make school difficult, but it doesn’t have to make it impossible.