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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

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truelove · 26/06/2021 22:32

Hi. Another parent of a DD14 refusing to go to school. She’s been suffering with anxiety and low mood since last August, self-harming and 3 paracetamol overdoses, the most recent 7 weeks ago. School attendance has been sporadic, missing on average a day a week when not in lockdown but she hasn’t been in at all for the last 2 weeks. We’ve been under CAMHS since the first overdose in September seeing an Occupational Therapist and have just had the first session with a psychologist who I’m hoping will be able to help more. School are trying to help get her back in with reduced timetable and one to one support if needed but she’s refusing to engage. We’ve been looking at online school as an alternative and DD is very keen to start that in September and I think has decided that that’s what’s going to happen. CAMHS are not sure avoiding school will be helpful in the long run but to be honest I’m emotionally drained from trying to get her into school every morning. Her school is independent so I’m not sure what support if any we are able to apply for if we elect to home school. Glad to have found you all.


1jumpforward2back · 26/06/2021 23:25

Truelove If DD is not able to attend school due to her mental health the LA have a statutory duty to provide education, this still applies if the pupil is on the roll of an independent school. You can also apply for an EHCNA just the same as if the school was a state school. EHCPs can cover online schooling.

If you electively home educate the LA are likely to say you are making suitable arrangements and they are relieved of their duties - this is the same whether you deregister from a state or independent school.


truelove · 27/06/2021 10:28

Ah ok, thanks @1jumpforward2back. She has 2 weeks until the end of term so we are thinking we may give notice before the the end of term and start online from year 10 in September as I’m guessing applying for and obtaining an EHCNA is not a quick process?


1jumpforward2back · 27/06/2021 14:49

The EHCP process takes 20 weeks, so long as you don't have to appeal, which, sadly, many parents do need to do. The initial stage where they LA decide whether to assess or not takes 6 weeks.

The LA's statutory duty to provide education to those unable to attend school is separate to EHCPs, and should be organised as soon as it becomes clear the pupil will miss 15 days. For ongoing conditions the 15 days does not need to be consecutive, they can be cumulative.


truelove · 27/06/2021 17:26

Thank you @1jumpforward2back that’s really helpful to know. As the parents, would we have a say in what the alternative solution is?


1jumpforward2back · 27/06/2021 19:56

How medical needs tuition is delivered depends on individual needs. It could be hospital school, home tutoring, online school, small group tuition. You may be asked your opinion on what will work/what DD can cope with, but medical opinion will also be considered.

For EHCPs the LA should seek yours and DD's views, and when you receive the draft you get to make representations and name your preferred placement.


Mimilamore · 27/06/2021 20:04

My grandson, Y7, has been in school sporadically since Sept.
Awaiting an appointment now for Mental Health services. He lost a granddad to Covid, is an introvert and prefers to be in the safety of his home.


Thisisworsethananticpated · 28/06/2021 08:44

It’s Monday
And of
Course , another refusal

I don’t think I can continue like this

I’m in despair 😞

He’s assessed for asd but I struggle to envisage the future like this with someone who refuses to engage with any MH support

It’s depressing , infuriating and soul destroying


VMJ1 · 29/06/2021 20:17

I've just found this thread and wish I'd found it months ago. My children have both been diagnosed with ASD this year and refused to go to school. Fortunately my elder one managed to overcome their issues in order to sit the A Level assessments and has now left school. (This wasn't easy, it was two steps forward, one step back all the time until they knew what was happening with the assessments, then they just wanted to get school over with and never go back).

They have both suffered from autistic burnout and basically needed some time off school to recover. They needed to remove the anxiety caused by school to give them some space.

My youngest (14) is now on sertraline which has helped her enormously. When the school opened in the spring after lockdown she spiralled downwards quite rapidly. The Zoom lessons had already put this burnout into motion as she couldn't cope with them. The school was fantastic, they cut her timetable hours but it was too late. She has had almost 3 months off school as she was so overwhelmed by life in general (staying in a dark room all day). Once she felt up to it we started going to shops etc in order to get used to being in public places again. Neither of them couldn't bear to step onto the school site or wear their uniform so we took it one step at a time - just driving round the school car park at first. We desperately wanted to get her back in school before the end of term and fortunately she has now managed a lesson each day last week. However this has been with a lot of support from the school, the pastoral manager has met her in reception and walked her to the lesson. Her friends have been great and encouraged her back in. I don't know how she will manage in September - the autistic burnout means she gets overwhelmed and exhausted pretty quickly, so we'll have another set of challenges then. We have been in deep despair with both kids over the past 6 months, I'm just hoping we've now turned a corner.

Contact with the teachers seems crucial - some haven't been understanding at all and made the situation a lot worse. When schools reopened we made contact with the pastoral manager who intervened, but during lockdown I felt I was firefighting on a daily basis.
While they are at their lowest point they just want to hide away, but it seems they need time to recover before they can progress. It is really frustrating because you want to make it better but we've discovered it has to be on their terms and their timeline. When they were first diagnosed I just found bad news stories about ASD, now I just seek out the positive ones to give us hope.


1jumpforward2back · 29/06/2021 21:00

Mimilamore your GS should be getting medical needs tuition, and an application for an EHCNA should be submitted.

VMJ1 you should apply for an EHCNA for DC2. Separately she should be receiving medical needs tuition, if it has been refused threaten Judicial Review.

If DC1 is not going on to higher education they can apply for a EHCNA too. If they are going on to HE have they applied for DSA?


PenOrPencil · 07/07/2021 09:59

We are still struggling on, still desperately trying to get medical help. I am at the end of my tether. A 90 minute triage call is booked in with CAHMS next week, though. We'll see.

Meanwhile school are kicking up a real fuss and demand access to dd's GP record. Does anybody have any experience with this? I don't think I want them to have access to her full medical record!

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VMJ1 · 07/07/2021 14:21

Really sorry to hear your difficulties PenOrPencil. I can't believe the attitude of your school. Our school is independent and has a completely different attitude - perhaps they have more leeway? They have given both my children space and encouragement when needed. We met the pastoral manager who encouraged my daughter step by step - she got her to agree to a lesson she particularly liked each day and met her at reception to take her to the classroom. I also emailed the teacher to give them a heads-up to make sure they were aware of the issue - a positive experience was the main result we wanted. Although it was my daughter's friend who actually persuaded her to get her uniform on and walk around the school site after school with her to get things started. After a few days, she was happy enough to go in on her own - believe me, we didn't think this would ever happen - we were thinking it would end in home schooling.

I'm sorry I have no constructive advice, but obviously schools have a lot of things to learn in this area. Why do they keep putting bureaucracy over the needs of children? Good luck with CAMHS.


PenOrPencil · 07/07/2021 17:50

Oops, I think I scared the attendance officer when I responded to “this might end up in court” yesterday with “fine, maybe we will get the help we need then!” Grin

They got back to me today with a somewhat different attitude - of course dd’s health comes first, blabla. Going in for yet another meeting, but without dd, next week to show good will with school. What we need is to see a bloody doctor, though. I am so unbelievably tired of this shit show. This has been going on since March and there has been no progress whatsoever.

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VMJ1 · 08/07/2021 14:20

Glad to hear school was more responsive this time! When you are going through this you need support from school not all this hassle! Let's hope they can come up with something constructive to help this time. It helped my daughter enormously knowing that there was someone at school she could go to. She's struggled on her own at senior school for 3 years, so was relieved someone took her worries seriously at last.

I really hope you get some help from CAMHS next week. I've been there with two children over the last 18 months so I know how helpless you feel right now.


PenOrPencil · 10/09/2021 20:32

A quick update from us: We took a complete break from everything over the summer and got a puppy. Totally switching off and focusing on the puppy has done all of us a world of good. Dd is now going into the garden and to puppy class with me!

She is still not back in school, but school have finally enrolled the help of an Ed Psych. We had a joint meeting this week where we discussed manageable steps for dd, and dd seems on board. It was agreed that she would not go into school before half term, first step is to email with a teacher.

We have also booked a private psychiatrist assessment (£££) and have yet another CAMHS triage assessment coming up to.

The steps we are taking are much, much smaller than even baby steps, but for the first time I can see just a hint of light at the end of the tunnel.

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persephone19 · 10/09/2021 20:46

My 13yo DS should be in y9 but hasn't been in school since the end of last year. He has ASD and the masks / incessant changes / weird rules were just too much for him and he's totally burnt out.
We're try to access an EHCP needs assessment. From the child who was top in his Y6 SATS we're now looking at specialist provision for SEND as we can't really see him ever returning to mainstream.


Drummella · 10/09/2021 20:56

Can you get her to try a meditation app? My dd has had a similar experience. I communicated with the school and they got her a weekly mental health session with YMCA via school, and they have a designated person who supports students with anxiety. But the real game-changer was using a meditation app before bed - she said she felt like something changed in her after one go so she makes sure to do it regularly whenever she feels her mental health dipping again. I really recommend it!


Hollyhocks7 · 10/09/2021 20:58

I'm in exactly the same position with DD 14. Supposed to be starting Y10. Can't see her managing mainstream education again. GCSEs beginning to seem unlikely too.


MackenCheese · 10/09/2021 21:01

@persephone19 I could have written your post exactly!! My ds 13, year 9 can't face school, and hasn't been in yet....
I'm frantically getting private reports to get a change to his echp to say, actually, the school isn't meeting his needs and he needs a specialist school. Being diagnosed late (age 10) has been such a pain!


persephone19 · 10/09/2021 21:12

[quote MackenCheese]@persephone19 I could have written your post exactly!! My ds 13, year 9 can't face school, and hasn't been in yet....
I'm frantically getting private reports to get a change to his echp to say, actually, the school isn't meeting his needs and he needs a specialist school. Being diagnosed late (age 10) has been such a pain! [/quote]
We never needed an EHCP until now so it's all new to us. We're trying to remain relaxed. DS is safe and happy and 'all' we have to do is find the set up that allows him to remain safe and happy but also access an education…😬


TeenMinusTests · 11/09/2021 09:36

I'm posting a Good news update (in bold to give other people hope).

NT 16yo, but with some SEN, issues mainly trauma based.

DD, (who missed all of y11 but managed a few assessments at home resulting in 4 GCSEs grade 3) has just done 2 full induction days at college! GrinGrin (Studying Animal Care and a beautiful rural campus).

The anti depressants, coupled with therapy and post adoption support have helped. Plus the new cat we adopted at the start of August. (She is 10 years old and beautifully behaved). CBT has just started in September too.

College probably think I'm a fraud as I asked for 2 transition visits beforehand (had to kick up a fuss to get the second one) and asked for her to sit in classrooms before, traffic light cards etc. But if we hadn't done that she wouldn't have coped as she'd have had to manage new buildings and adults as well as crowds.

She is still in my bed, and won't eat with her fingers, and v anxious in evenings when more tired, but progress is being made.


PenOrPencil · 11/09/2021 10:40

Oh @TeenMinusTests, that sounds wonderful, well done your dd and you!

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TeenMinusTests · 11/09/2021 12:16

We aren't out of the woods yet, but in a much better place than this time last year, or even spring this year.


cansu · 23/11/2021 20:58

School can offer a part time timetable. They can give time out cards and a place for a student to go to. Some offer counselling by appointment. There will be a member of staff a student can see if they need immediate support but that will likely be whoever is free or a member of SLT in an emergency.

What schools are not set up to do:
Have counsellor available all day at any time to students. There just isn't capacity. They have many students they are supporting. If your dd has a mental health condition, she needs medical expertise.
What do you want the school to do?


PenOrPencil · 25/03/2022 20:21

I thought I would give a little update a year on from my first post. Today we pulled dd out of school. She has not gone in in person for a year now and even though she is making very slow progress she will not be able to go in and sit GCSEs this year. School have been unhelpful and largely useless, she has only just started counselling via CAMHS, who have actually outsourced the counselling to a private company. She has 10 sessions and will then be discharged.
In the meantime we have paid for private counselling, seen a private psychiatrist and she will be going to a private online school after Easter, moving back into year 10. We are lucky that we can tighten our belts and afford all of this. Far too many families are left struggling.

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