Tips to help kids with mental illness succeed in school

Children with mental illness need guidance and understanding from their parents and teachers. This support can help your child achieve his or her full potential and succeed in school.

Each school year brings a new teacher and new schoolwork. This change can be difficult for some children. Inform the teachers that your child has a mental illness when he or she starts school or moves to a new class. Additional support will help your child adjust to the change.

Here are some other tips to help you help your child get the education he or she deserves.

Q. How do I work with my child’s school?

Tips to help kids with mental illness succeed in schoolA. If your child is having problems in school, or if a teacher raises concerns, you can work with the school to find a solution. You may ask the school to conduct an evaluation to determine whether your child qualifies for special education services. However, not all children diagnosed with a mental illness qualify for these services.

Start by speaking with your child’s teacher, school counselor, school nurse, or the school’s parent organization. These professionals can help you get an evaluation started.

Also, each state has a Parent Training and Information Center and a Protection and Advocacy Agency that can help you request the evaluation. The evaluation must be conducted by a team of professionals who assess all areas related to the suspected disability using a variety of tools and measures.

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Q. What resources are available from the school?

A. Once your child has been evaluated, there are several options for him or her, depending on the specific needs. If special education services are needed, and if your child is eligible under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), the school district must develop an “individualized education program” specifically for your child within 30 days.

If your child is not eligible for special education services, he or she is still entitled to “free appropriate public education,” available to all public school children with disabilities under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. Your child is entitled to this regardless of the nature or severity of his or her disability.

The US Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights enforces Section 504  in programs and activities that receive Federal education funds. Visit programs for children with disabilities for more information.

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