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Back to school with severe depression.

Back to school with severe depression.

Parent Peer Supporter

Back to school with severe depression.

Hi everyone,

I really need some tips to help my daughter when she goes back to school.

She missed the last month or so on 2016.

Currently she is still battling severe depression, being outpatient treated and tried going back to her part time job but it was too much for her to get through even a full shift.

I cannot see that she'll cope going back to school full time.

She is going in to year 10


I've tried finding tips online with no luck.


Super contributor

Re: Back to school with severe depression.

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Hi @LovingThruBlue

Thanks for your post. I'm so sorry to hear how difficult things are for your daughter and yourself at the moment.

Can I ask what kind of supports you are getting from the school / school; counsellor? I know it's holidays at the moment but how were they during your daughter's last few months? Have they discussed a plan for her return?

Also, what have her workers said? I'm guessing she was seeing someone during her time as a an out-patient. has that continued? And did they discuss returning to school?


Here are some ReachOut supports yuou can utilise immediately:

This one is about being a supportive parent. It sounds like you already are so this may just be a remoinder of how great you're doing, with hopefully a couple more skills you can add to your tool box.

This one is specific tips to supporting a young person dealing with depression. I think you'll find some good stuff here.

And finally, what about suggesting she try Reach Out. You can decide whether you tell her you are utilising ReachOut Parents. the two are deliberately kept very seperate so there's no risk of you guys encountering each other online. Or her reading your posts. But the youth forums have lots of young people who are looking for support from their peers, so they don't feel like they are the only ones feeling this way. It's really well moderated so there's no bullying behaviour or 'hook ups'. It's just a safe space where young people can anonymously talk about what's going on for them and get some suggestions from other young people about what worked and didn't work for them.


What do you think?






Parent Peer Supporter

Re: Back to school with severe depression.

Hi @Ngaio-RO,


There was not a lot of support from the school before the end of last year as they weren't aware of her illness initially and then her care was critical and she went into the inpatient facility. Unfortunately there is no-one there until right before she is due to start back.


Back to school hasn't been discussed with her case worker (that she sees weekly) but I am planning to bring it up this week and also with her psychiatrist that we're seeing this week too. 

I was hoping to go into those meetings with some ideas but I'm at a loss. I guess I'll just see what they suggest.


Previous discussions with my daughter about the forums have been dismissed but I'll keep trying for sure because I know I get great advice here. I do with it was more active but I guess that will happen over time, the more people join Smiley Happy 



Super contributor

Re: Back to school with severe depression.

I think your idea of going into the meetings with some suggestions is a great idea @LovingThruBlue

Let's see if we can support you with that before your next case worker and psych meetings.


Can I ask where your daughter is with this?

As in, when developing some suggestions, what do you know of your daughter's preferences.

Is she keen to go back or hating the idea? Has she indicated what she feels she can cope with?


The case worker and psych SHOULD have some strategies about returning to school. Anyone working in adolescent mental health will have encountered this issue previously but don't forget this process is driven by your daughter primarily and you. Depending on her capacity. So it comes down to what you both think will work for her.


I'm keen to see what the other parents think. I know @mumlittlehelper   @Worriedmum  and  @Poppa_bear  have experienced similar things.


And don't worry too much about the forums thing with her. They're not for everyone. And my experience with young people is that sometimes they just need to feel like enough time has passed that it then becomes their idea, rather than yours. So maybe leave it for a while. Smiley Happy


And I hear you about this community being more active! We have some wonderful strategies we are about to start implementing whioch should see an influx of parents. The greatest thing we can all do is to stick around, keep posting and sharing so when people start looking at the forums, they can immediately see how wonderful the support is here. You guys really are an amazing bunch!!

Parent Peer Supporter

Re: Back to school with severe depression.

Thanks for your reply @Ngaio-RO

She doesn't want to go back to school.

I asked her what she is most worried about and she says that is...

- Not being in her home environment where she feels most safe & able to do things she likes.

- Being around too many people and not being able to get away.

- Not being able to distact herself from bad thoughts with tv/music/phone


She says there are no free rooms she can think of that she could go to and she says that even if there was she would want to be there all the time.

Super contributor

Re: Back to school with severe depression.

Sounds to me that what your daughter is asking for is very understandable. considering her situation @LovingThruBlue And it certainly aligns with the needs of other young poeople I've worked with in similar situations.


Hopefully your meeting with the case manager and psych will be fruitful in developing ideas about how she can have her needs met, while attending school but there's a good chance you won't have a firm plan until school starts and you can meet with the principal and counsellor.


How open to negotiation is your daughter? Would she be willing to have a conversation around strategies to manage school. Like, "I could spend X number of hours in the classroom if I was able to spend recess in a quiet space." Something like that? With an understanding that this is just creating frameworks to help her school know what she needs, rather than promises, to help the conversation go a little easier.


Although I'm making these suggestions without knowing what her school is like. Is your gut telling you they'll be open to hearing her needs or not?

Parent Peer Supporter

Re: Back to school with severe depression.

@Ngaio-RO I'm really not sure how to react. At times they have been far less than helpful but I think that if communication comes with the CAHMS team involved they'll be more open to it.

Your idea of negotiating times is a good one that'll I'll discuss with my daughter before taking to the team & school. 

Also, she is on a cocktail of meds and I'm not even sure how much will sink in or how long she'll be able to concentrate? Very little I'm thinking at this point. 

Super contributor

Re: Back to school with severe depression.

It sounds like you're really flying blind at this stage @LovingThruBlue and are waiting on the professionals involved to fill you in. Which can be excruciating. 

What about you and your daughter sitting down and making a list of questions, one for CAMHS and one for the school staff, so you can both feel confident nothing will be forgotten.

It also means, if your daughter is struggling with feeling 'present' due to the meds, that she can keep adding to the list as she thinks of things. Zero pressure.


Parent Peer Supporter

Re: Back to school with severe depression.

Great idea thank you @Ngaio-RO Smiley Happy


Frequent scribe

Re: Back to school with severe depression.

Hi, your post seemed very familiar to me, as we have been, and to a certain extent, still are in the same situation as you. My daughter has depression but not as severe as your daughter's, but complicated with other mental health issues, such that attending school on a full time basis has been impossible for her.  I wish I had lots of answers for you, but I don't, but sometimes it is good to know that you are not the only people to be going through stuff like this. 


My D has only sporadically attended school for the past 2.5 years.  It is difficult and frustrating.  She's a good kid, but the number of people, constant deadlines and migraines just make regular school attendance next to impossible.  We have tried a number of things, but none of them very successfully.  For a start, we let her change school, to where no one knew her and she could be anonymous, this also involved some risk, as it meant that she had very little support at her new school, but she really needed the breathing space it gave her. But this would not be true for all kids.


I suppose that our biggest change was our attitude to her schooling.  While we value schooling, her health is more important to us. We did our best to downplay the importance of school, figuring that there is nothing education-wise that she can't make up for at some later stage of life, when her mental health is better.  So we told her that it is OK not to pass everything, and if she failed everything that we would still love her and support her. Amazingly, despite sporadic attendance, so far she has passed everything.


So our attitude has been to ease off as much pressure as we could, give her some choices (but not too many) and just accept that for now, this is her reality. As I said, I don't know if this is any help, so ignore it if you like.