What would you have expected the school to have responded in these circs?(23 Posts)
So, DS suffers from depression. He was first diagnosed 2 years ago and with a couple of months of counselling improved a lot. He goes through bad phases, particularly in the depths of winter.
He's currently going through a particularly rough patch. Much of his unhappiness stems from the fact that he hates his school (highly pressured grammar), and tbh I wish I hadn't persuaded him to stay on till 6th form. Anyway, he did and is due to finish A levels next June. He's underperforming at school and predicted BBC (most people go on to Oxbridge/Russell Group unis with all A/A*s.
On Wednesday I just couldn't get him out of bed at all. I said I'd leave him as long as he agreed to my telling the school what's happening. So I emailed his Head of Year and Matron simply to say that he's been suffering depression for 2 years and is just starting CBT (yesterday) but avoiding ADs.
Since then I have had no acknowledgement from anyone at all at the school.
Is this usual, or would you have expected the school to respond? I did say in my email that the depression is diagnosed as moderate and situational (due to his being deeply unhappy at school).
Although I didn't say so in my email, he is really wound up by the way things are done at school. For example, he was late on Monday due to traffic (6 minutes) and was told off by some bloke who isn't a teacher, I think he's a bursar. DS said sorry. Next day, he was in on time and this same guy (who hangs around by the front gate) said somehting sarcastic to him. DS ignored him (it was either that or floor him, he's so wound up and angry), and the guy stood in front of him clicking his fingers in DS's face and saying Excuse Me! DS managed to hold it together and not retailiate. This is the sort of thing that happens every day.
I know he only has 6 months to stick it out for but God, it's hard!
Is there any way you can move him? Even if he has to repeat this past year (which may not be a bad thing if you think he is underachieving).
I have moderate depression which is made worse in certain situations. I couldn't cope with this as a teen, its bad enough as an adult.
Wrt CBT. Best thing you could have done in my opinion. Ive been having CBT since beg. August and already feel like a new person. I will be coming off my ADs in feb.
I also think the way you seem to be supporting him is amazing. It cant be easy to understand your sons behaviour and feelings, yet you obviously do and trust your instincts in helping him. It makes such a difference to have someone in your court. xx
Oh thank you so much Drinkyourmilk, for your kind words - I'm welling up!
I do try to support him and listen. He has a very good friend who's also a good listener and I hope that between us and his CBT counsellor he will get through this.
I don't think he would move now with only 6 months to go. It is a shame that he isn't getting the grades he would normally get, but tbh I don't want to put any pressure on him about that. The school are bad enough and he can always go back to education later on in life. Hopefully he'll still go to Uni, just not a first tier one.
knees I would have wanted the school to respond, I think I would have expected them too. Surely we would like to see our dc's schools showing support and concern for their welfare? I take this view because my ds 15 is not diagnosed with depression but admits to me that he has been feeling very low (mild depression I would say) for the last three months or so and has had low patches earlier in his life. He agreed recently that if he wasn't feeling better by a certain time then I could take him to the doctor. Well he felt a bit better so we never went but he dipped low again and I kept him off school today (only half day). It is "situational" - school brings him down, even though he has a small group of good friends, is doing ok with his GCSE's, likes (most of) his teachers ...
I emailed his English teacher two days ago about ds's anxiety about his mock exam and mentioned to her how he had been feeling. She replied immediately and very supportively. I was very impressed, but then the school have been very approachable and supportive whenever I have needed contact with them. (It's a "good" comprehensive). I have to decide whether to speak to someone else at the school about my ds, whether to wait and see how he is over Xmas, or whether to go to our GP first.
I am interested to know what your process of diagnosis was and the route to CBT, if you don't mind me asking?
So sorry this has turned out to be all about me and my ds and not more help for you. I think you are right not to put any academic pressure on your ds. If we all had the benefit of hindsight I think many of us would have chosen different schooling routes for our dc. Does your ds have many interests and friends outside of school? Can more of a balance be created so some of the focus is taken off school? Perhaps that might help make him more relaxed? My ds too gets very upset by little insensitivities thrown at him at school. And it's really hard work for them to just hold it all together.
I feel for you, hope Xmas brings some rest and relaxation for your ds
Hi, Gardening, sorry your ds is also unhappy, I'd suggest that perhaps he goes to see his GP. DS's GP originally (2 years ago) said they wouldn't prescribe ADs, and I think that was the right approach. The other day when DS went she offered him a prescription but suggested that he tried CBT first.
I know anecdotally that it takes a long time to get therapy on the NHS so I arranged for him to see someone privately and he started last night, with a view to weekly sessions. The therapist fed back to me today that he scores highly (which is bad), but that she's impressed by his emotional intelligence and the fact that he clearly wants to accept the help available, and feels that he will start to improve after 4 to 6 weekly sessions.
He does have outside interests and hangs out mainly with people from a different school, which his best friend attends. He has a few friends at his school who he hangs out with at lunchtime but they're not really close.
Hope you and your ds find some help soon x
I have some experience of this type of situation my DD didn't have depression but looking back his mindset was affected by a lymphoma diagnosis when he was 10 and although he hasn't had any major hospital treatment he has to be conscious of his health and therefore became very conscious although not worried about his mortality he simply doesn't worry about stuff and deadlines etc . He went to a top independent school but they didn't deal with his pastoral care very well and as he got older he did do some work so I think they just found it easier not to bother. Although they would assure me that they would and waxed lyrical about their pastoral care we didn't see any of it. He did ok in his GCSE's terribly in his A's and well in his A2s yes I know strange the school were no help with UCAS etc and its far too long to go into the stories now. I would have had problems if I'd moved him after A's which I should have done he wouldn't have reacted well and they didn't recommend it. He ended up with CCD the D due to fact that they didn't hand in some of his coursework ! We had a truly horrid two weeks but have sent him a to a resit college in North London and although they have had to come to terms with the frustrations of my DS ( he is adamant he wants to go to Uni I have tried to get him to do something else) he is enjoying it and working harder than he has done before and enjoys the company of the other kids. It looks like its best for your DS to stick where he is and then take time out to sort out what he wants to do. School is not for all especially Grammer/ independent. My DD went to a good comprehensive ( refused to go private ) and had a two weekly one to one with her tutor and although sometimes had usual problems with teachers other kids etc she always felt looked after and they had 2000 in the school she did very very well . As for the idiot at the gate well lets just say that I have eaten a PE teacher before very unlike me and I do still wince about it but the other bit of me is happy I did it ( DS truly a good athlete but hated rugby and the school wanted him to play sport at least 4 days a week and with a lymphoma you just can't recover mind you most kids couldn't recover). You must have broken up and he may have forgotten about your DS by next term but if he hasn't you may have to drop him off one day and go into the school and sit in front of the headmaster and tell him, my route born out of frustration is not so dignified !
Hang in there finish the school year get your results but there are plenty of other boys like him out there it wasn't till my DS met them that he realised there was but when you go to that type of school and not getting As or god forbid Bs they feel there is something wrong with them. The world has changed less people are going to university straight after school and some like my daughter stayed at home and did her degree . There's plenty of good courses not just Uni or Russell group. Good luck I know your going through a hard time but it will pass try and be kind to yourself and your DS.
Thank you hollolew, sounds like we have very similar DSs!
He's gone into town today with a friend which is good, he spent all of yesterday watching one dvd after another but I guess he just needed the down-time.
I would have expected the school to respond too, but to be honest, and with hindsight, I think it is a naive expectation. It took me 5 or 6 years to work out that while we as parents have our own individual child/children's well-being as our top priority, it is waaaaay down the list of priorities for any school.
All schools put collective well-being above individual well-being, and effective 'crowd management' above well-being. Many also prioritise performance, attainment, behaviour, appearance and routine. Pupils' happiness and mental health barely appear on the radar for some school management teams.
It is rubbish and it should not be so, but it is. I spent hours and hours and hours over several years trying to get my DS's school to 'understand'. With hindsight, I wish I had hadn't expended so much energy on the school: it is frustrating and futile, and I could have spent that energy more positively, for example making sure my DS had more pleasure and fulfilment in his life to balance out the unhappiness of school.
Flow, yes I think you're right. That's why I haven't bothered to tell the school much, I know they just don't care. At parents evening last time, the biology teacher commented in front of ds that he sits quietly in class and looks like he has the world on his shoulders. So they do notice, but would never actually ask him if he's ok.
Earlier this term my dd2 woke up one Monday morning and announced she wasn't getting up - I emailed school explaining how stressed she gets about things and had a reply 45 minutes later, then a meeting a week later.
But yes, collective well being is more important than individual for them - my dd2 is doing 13 gcse/equivalent subjects as she is doing one as a twilight subject, and we asked if there was any way she could drop the extra one that they said she had to do (in normal school day) just to relieve some of the mostly-self-imposed pressure - no, we don't want to set a precedent of y10's dropping subjects.
I really think you should move him, even with only 6 months to go.
I was probably depressed as a teenager, and that kind of thing from a random man would have made me tip.
to have to deal with that every day without a way out would have been soul-destroying.
But Nickelbaby, that would mean that he would have to start again at another school doing another curriculum in September, so he's be sitting at home for 9 months.
If he sticks this out and scrapes a BBC, he'll go to Uni in September.
It is shit but there is no practical way of him changing schools as the other one does a totally different curriculum.
My eldest suffers from SAD. If you haven't got a light box for your DS, I would recommend trying one. It isn't a cure all by any means, but it definitely improved my son's mood after a few days. He makes sure to start using it every day as soon as the clocks change. He developed symptoms at about 16.
He left school after doing his AS levels (it was a selective, very hard to get into state school) and went to a sixth form college. The relaxed atmosphere did him the world of good.
The staff member you mention is extremely rude, and a bully IMO.
Funnily enough his SAD box arrived this morning! Glad to hear your DS finds it helpful 3littlefrogs
I know, it's a tough decision
but don't they do AS levels then A levels as if they are separate these days?
that might make it easier.
He might not be able to cope with uni if he thinks the next 3 years are going to be like this.
I had a really tough time settling in at uni.
nickel, the way I've presented it to ds is that if he goes straight from this regimented way of life into another (he wants to go in the RAF) without any "playtime", he'll find it hard.
I'm hoping that Uni will be a lot more relaxed in terms of not having twats clicking their fingers in his face, and being given detentions for leaving a free period 4 minutes before lunchtime (another example), and making new friends, going to lots of parties etc, and will be a fresh start. I don't think he could stick another school environment.
the school's response is disappointing to say the least. at my school, a student who was underperforming as your son is would have been picked up on by now, teachers canvassed and then you'd have been contacted by the head of year, whereupon his depression would have come out. we aren't perfect, but everyone involved would be trying to work together to sort things out and support your son.
his school is letting him down. fwiw i absolutely cannot stand adults using sarcasm to belittle young people - that bursar sounds vile
you're right. uni should be a lot easier in that respect - you get treated like an adult.
I have to wonder who thinks BBC is underperforming. Those are pretty good grades.
it is underperforming if he is capable of more, not because BBC is rubbish in and of itself.
a good school knows what its students are capable of and monitors their progress. it notices when they are sliding headlong into depression and acts to support them. in my opinion, obv.
knees - be aware that getting through the RAF selection process and through preliminary training is a hell of a lot tougher than university, both psychologically and physically.
I'm glad someone mentioned the sad box. Can I also recommend high dose vit d through winter - making sure he gets a min of 20 000 iu weekly. Ds1 is too young for depression but gets v anti-social and awithdrawn in winter - turned out he was v vit d deficient and we saw a big improvement after a prescription dose of vit d (40 000 iu weekly)
Of course, not the only answer, but it could be helpful
Thanks everyone. Jess, his targets at the beginning were AAB, so BBC is a bit crap in comparison.
Yes, he realises that getting through selection is going to be very tough, but hopes that by the time he gets to that stage (hopefully in 3 years), the depression will be sorted.
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