It can be difficult to guide your child about making a decision to start therapy if their grades are already suffering. How can they afford the time to go to all of the sessions? Especially if they have to miss school? Is it worth it?
If your child already has good grades, it might seem unnecessary for them to go to therapy, because good grades means they are functioning well, right? Well … grades are only one part of their life. They might be struggling in other parts, such as their relationships with others and their relationship with themselves. Some young people also try working harder at school as a way to deal with their emotions. There are other important ways of functioning—see our past article talking about this.
If, on the other hand, your child’s grades are getting worse because of their symptoms, can they afford to miss school for therapy?
The problem is if they don’t get therapy, their school performance is likely to get worse. That is because depression can make them feel not motivated to do their work or go to class, they can have trouble concentrating, and anxiety might make them too worried about going to class or getting through a test without second-guessing themselves.
So there you have the apparent conundrum: grades would get worse without therapy, but therapy could take them away from school, so how does that help their grades?
One way to help is to talk to your child’s teachers and guidance counselor about whether they could benefit from special accommodations at school to help give them some space to catch up as they get better. This website from a Baltimore initiative has links to several resources for schools.
Your school can also set up an education accommodations plan for your child called a 504 plan. Or if they need more intensive accommodations, which might require them to be out of the classroom with a support staff, an individualized educational plan (IEP) may be better. See kidshealth.org for an easy-to-understand summary about 504 plans and IEPs. This helpful site from Michigan has multiple resources explaining what a 504 plan is and how to ask your school for one.
If your child is in college, check out the American Psychiatric Association and the Jed Foundation’s project Transition Year for help with resources that can help your child take care of their emotional health while keeping up with work in college.
If your child has had special accommodations because of their emotional health, let us know below—especially if you have advice for others on how to go about it!