Put a question to Bridget Phillipson, Shadow Education Minister

My feed

to access all these features

Mumsnet doesn't verify the qualifications of users. If you have medical concerns, please consult a healthcare professional.

Child mental health

Anybody else’s dc not back in school due to mental health?

160 replies

PenOrPencil · 09/03/2021 17:29

My dd14 went for testing somewhat reluctantly yesterday, then had a complete meltdown last night. She is terrified of going back to school, not because of COVID but because of depression and anxiety. She did well during lockdown academically as she was able to withdraw from the world completely.

She has been referred to CAMHS and a counselling appointment will apparently be made within the next 2 weeks.
Up until then we are left to our own devices, but we feel absolutely helpless.

She promised to try to go to school tomorrow, but I am not particularly optimistic about that. Sad

OP posts:
Beamur · 09/03/2021 17:35

You have my sympathies.
My DD is due back later this week. There have been tears every day since the return was announced. She's a clever girl but doesn't really enjoy school very much and has been very happy at home. I think she's going to find it hard.
She had a referral to CAHMS a few weeks ago as whilst she was doing well, I could see trouble ahead. They've been pretty helpful.
There are various online resources though - have the school sent through any information?

SportsBlah · 09/03/2021 17:39

My dd (15) hasn't been to school since March 2020, she's been in bed for 5 days and very little of the past 12 months had she been out of her bedroom. School have referred us to a separate teaching service but she refuses to go their too. CAMHS are next to useless. We are desperate but no one cares but us.

TeenMinusTests · 09/03/2021 17:42

Yes. My now year 11 has a collapse at the start of lockdown and has hardly accessed schoolwork since, and didn't return in September. Anxiety & depresssion. Have been on waiting list for CAMHS since May, gave up and went private in Sept, even then took 2 months to get an appointment.
She's gone from being on track to get 8 GCSEs at grade 4/5 to only even being entered for 4, and may not get grades for anything.

OP - how was your DD before Covid? DD was struggling before, but then fell off a cliff metaphorically.

Lycopodium8 · 09/03/2021 17:46

We have a similar issue with Yr 9 DD. Have you considered enrolling her for an online school instead? I've had a quick look at Interhigh, Pearson online etc. There are fees to pay but they are quite a bit cheaper than a regular private school. I'm also hoping my DD will be able to return in person when she hits post 16 education.

SportsBlah · 09/03/2021 17:51

**Sorry about the their, I'm emotional!
Dd refuses online teaching too and refuses counselling online so CAMHS won't help.

TeenMinusTests · 09/03/2021 18:01

Ultimately what has helped DD is seeing

  • a counsellor privately ££
  • a consultant psychiatrist ££££ who has prescribed meds.

She is also on a wait list for CBT but we don't want to do it yet as she needs other improvements first.

We found it so hard trying to work out where to go to get help. We are 'lucky' in that our DD is adopted and once we got post adoption support involved in September we started getting somewhere.
PenOrPencil · 09/03/2021 18:23

I am so sorry to hear that so many of us are in the same boat.

I have been looking into InterHigh, actually, @Lycopodium8, but I am afraid that this will just allow dd to keep being so withdrawn.

My gut feeling is that we need meds to tackle the depression before we can think about CBT etc.

She is also adamant that she doesn’t want school involved. She doesn’t want to be a “weirdo” that people laugh at.

I just burst into tears every 5 minutes because I feel so helpless and hopeless.

OP posts:
PenOrPencil · 09/03/2021 18:25

@TeenMinusTests Can you tell me more about the counsellor and consultant psychiatrist? What’s the difference?

OP posts:
TeenMinusTests · 09/03/2021 18:29

A consultant psychiatrist is a proper medical doctor. They have the ability to prescribe medication such as anti depressants to minors that GPs cannot. They can also advise on other strategies that might be useful.

A counsellor helps talk through feelings etc, or might be trained in a specific type of therapy such as CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy which as far as I can make out is about challenging and altering unwanted behaviours rather than looking at reasons why you have them. I may be wrong).

I haven't quite worked out about psychologists. They aren't prescribing doctors, but I think they have more training/knowledge than a counsellor.

DD loves animals. She has been having Equine Assisted therapy which is counselling in a field of horses.

TeenMinusTests · 09/03/2021 18:34

Oh, I have been counselling too as if you don't look after yourself you can't help anyone. I was broken before I started it. A friend recommended a couple to me via a friend of hers. I didn't have bandwidth to sort one for myself.

The private consultant psychiatrist was ~ £300 for first appt and £250 for follow ups. We are lucky we can afford it.

PenOrPencil · 09/03/2021 18:58

Thank you. I am inclined to cough up for the psychiatrist while waiting for counselling to start. The cost is eye watering, but needs must.

OP posts:
Soontobe60 · 09/03/2021 19:01

Why dont you speak to school and try to implement a shortened timetable - obviously with your DDs input. Maybe the first session of the day. Build her return up gradually.

PenOrPencil · 09/03/2021 19:04

We’re working towards that. Today she just refused to go in at all. I would be over the moon if she went for just one lesson tomorrow.

OP posts:
OverTheRainbow88 · 09/03/2021 19:05


I’m sorry, that sounds so terrible. I care.

Is school the main issue? Was she bullied? What does your GP suggest? Does she have any friends/siblings/cousins close in age? Any hobbies that might draw her out?

MinnieJackson · 09/03/2021 20:36

Yep my 8 year old. He has asd and is having awful panic attacks. I asked the school for extended leave until Easter but they can't because the government want a all kids back. Hopefully a half day thursday. I referred him to cahms myself as then his attendance wouldn't be affected apparently, but they've told me the threshold is so high at the moment it's unlikely we'll get any help. I've asked for educational psychologist to observe him at school, to expensive, I've given them the name of an autism community outreach worker that's much cheaper, and they will 'look into it'. I'm at the end of my tether, all three of my sons keep arguing so much. I don't know what else to do, constantly trying to be calm is exhausting. Looked for other schools with better sen provisions, all oversubscribed. I feel like I'll have to pull him out, and I'm definitely not a teacher Sad

hapagirl · 09/03/2021 20:54

Hugs all of you. My DD14 is due to go back next week. Up until first lockdown she was a star at school though in hindsight she was probably struggling underneath. Panic attacks in school and self harm after return in august and overdose on paracetamol in November. She’s in Tier 4 CAMHS now. Has a psychiatrist and CBT with psychologist as well as weekly check ins with CPN. I can’t fault the CAMHS team. They think she probably has ASD but she is refusing assessment for it. While the team are great, she herself sees no need to get better, she thinks she’s fine. Luckily she is engaging with services but the thought of school next week makes me feel sick with anxiety (I don’t have anxiety, I’m just very anxious and sleepless because of all this). I miss who she was and who we were. Good luck everyone. I’m so sorry you and your DCs are going through this.

1jumpforward2back · 09/03/2021 21:16

Pen listen to Teen, you are no use to anyone if you don't look after yourself.

Sportsblah the LA have a statutory duty to provide education to pupils who are too unwell to attend school, that includes because of MH difficulties. See the guidance here. If DD can not attend a centre this can be home tuition. If the LA won't provide suitable education you can force them to via Judicial Review. Alongside this you should apply for an EHCNA.

Minnie you should apply for an EHCNA. Don't deregister, it is easier to get help when on a school's roll - crudely, you are someone's 'problem'.

SportsBlah · 09/03/2021 23:56


Thank you. I beside myself with worry. Dd wasn't bullied, she has a great bunch of friends but she has rejected them, they've tried but other than a couple of times she's refused to speak to them. She has a cousin I feel she is too dependant on.


I am in touch with the school but provisions for help are limited due to the pandemic.

We have a doctors appointment on Thursday so I'm hopeful of some further help. I have written a hugely long letter to CAMHS and both schools today, laying out what is going on and what little help we've had so far and begging for help. We will see what comes of it.

Thank you for caring and your advice, no one knows in RL.

SportsBlah · 09/03/2021 23:59

@PenOrPencil Sorry for hijacking a little. It came to a head today just before you posted and I was feeling down and angry.

I hope your dd gets the help she needs, the fact you're doing this on day1 bodes well for you both.

thecatfromjapan · 10/03/2021 00:03

Us too.

Stomach aches and school refusal here. ☹️

TeenMinusTests · 10/03/2021 06:31

Our good news is that DD had to come off her meds for 6 weeks while something else was sorted, but we have had the go ahead to get back on them again. They made a world of difference last time so hoping that will reoccur.

Minnie Stay on role, you keep it as their problem. They can't really fine you or anything if you show you are engaging and asking for help. I think I read somewhere that they need to be off school for 3 weeks or something before higher up start to take notice.

Re ANXIETY . Our GP eventually prescribed Propranolol beta blockers which took the edge off anxiety, but it took repeated calls over a couple of months saying how bad things were.
(There have been times when I have felt like using some of DD's, but ultimately I know that my stress/anxiety is a normal reaction to an unusual situation, whereas DD's is an abnormal reaction.)

MinnieJackson · 10/03/2021 07:20

Thank you all. How does a ECHNA differ from an EHCP which I'm trying to get?

Tankflybosswalkjam · 10/03/2021 07:27

The ECHNA is just another acronym for the EHC assessment.

Minnie how is your application going? Are you applying yourself?

1jumpforward2back · 10/03/2021 08:38

Medical needs tuition should be provided as soon as it becomes clear a pupil will be absent for more than 15 days. It is in the guidance I linked to in my pp.

Minnie make sure the LA stick to the timescales. The EHCNA is the needs assessment part you first apply for.

Sportsblah the relaxation of the LAs statutory duties ended in September last year. Especially now schools have reopened there is no reason home tutoring can't be provided. Saying it's not possible is a delaying tactic. The same for applying for an EHCNA.

TeenMinusTests · 10/03/2021 08:56

1jump How do you go about getting medical needs tuition?

DD is finally well enough to do some more regular tuition (I am paying for some) and I'd quite like some free.

Please create an account

To comment on this thread you need to create a Mumsnet account.