If your child has a mental health condition, are you both ready for school? Providing support and guidance for a child with a mental health condition is a critical part of recovery. As a parent or caregiver, it is important that you work towards providing your child with the best school environment possible and that’s why I’ve written up this Back-to-School Checklist for Kids with Mental Health Issues.
- I have made sure my child’s Individualized Education Program (IEP) is updated, and all the modifications and accommodations are in an easy-to-reference place for everyone to see.
- I have communicated with the regular teacher, special education teacher, principal, school psychologist, guidance counselor and/or anyone else helping to manage my child’s program to make sure they’re aware of his/her needs and the accommodations/modifications the school has agreed to.
- I have introduced myself to my child’s teacher(s), to make sure the teacher(s) (including PE, art, music, etc.) is/are aware of how my child’s mental health condition might manifest itself in the classroom, is on board with any IEP modifications and accommodations, and has had an opportunity to express any concerns or questions to me.
- I have made sure that my child will have some positive social interactions at school, such as participating in a sport or after-school activity.
- I have talked to my child about bullying, both so they don’t get bullied and so they don’t bully others.
- I have talked to my child about how s/he wants to talk about their mental health condition with adults and/or peers, so that they can find a comfortable, non-scary way (for them or others) of explaining how they might be different and how they are just like everyone else.
- My child and I have worked out a strategy for “bad days” (when they might be able to stay home, when they should go to the nurse’s office before a situation escalates, etc.) and I have communicated this strategy to school officials.
- If my child takes medication during the day, I have made sure that my child knows where to go to take it (such as a school nurse’s office), have completed all necessary paperwork, that a trusted adult in the school is aware of this, and school personnel are also aware of any side effects my child might experience from the medication.