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Anxiety is a common condition that often triggers fear, social isolation, or uneasiness. Approximately 10% of teenagers have anxiety, and many schools offer resources to help students with this condition thrive. Academics, peer pressure, or moving can cause your child mental stress. Unfortunately, your teen may not receive access to these resources if you don’t inform her school that she has anxiety. Consider the factors below so you can determine whether it might be beneficial to notify the educational facility about your teen’s condition.
Your Teen’s Personality
Anxiety is a condition, not a personality trait. Before you mention your teen’s anxiety to the school, think about her personality type. Is she strong-willed and independent? If so, she may become upset with you if you schedule a meeting about her condition, especially if she feels like she has everything under control.
A teen who is sensitive about her diagnosis may also want to keep the condition a secret. Your teen may feel embarrassed if you share the status of her mental health with others, which may increase her anxiety. It may also make her feel out of place or judged. Weigh the pros and cons of notifying educational staff before you mention your teen’s anxiety.
Think back to the beginning of the school year. Did you have to fill out any paperwork about your teen’s physical or mental health? During enrollment, many schools request that parents disclose all medical conditions their students have. This is because it helps teachers and other school employees figure out how to tailor their educational approaches toward students who have special physical, mental, or emotional needs.
Even if your school doesn’t request this information, some parents willingly provide it. It’s also important to mention any medications your child takes, especially since some anxiety medications are considered controlled substances. If your child takes medication as prescribed during the day, she might get in trouble if the school doesn’t know that a doctor okayed this treatment schedule. Some teens abuse anxiety medications, and your teen’s school might mistakenly think she’s storing or consuming pills in an attempt to get buzzed.
Your teen’s school might also have a policy that prohibits students from keeping pills, even those that are prescribed, in their backpacks, lockers, or purses. Contact the school nurse if you’re not sure what the procedures are at your child’s school.
If you decide to share your teen’s medical records, you might worry that educational personnel may learn secrets about your family. For example, the pediatrician or child psychologist may have written something like “family history of anxiety” or “grandfather passed away from suicide” in your teen’s medical file. While it’s true that schools can share health information with employees who work directly with your teen, there are guidelines in place to protect sensitive information.
Generally, schools have to inform you with a written explanation of individuals and agencies that may have access to your child’s records. If you do not sign the consent form, the school may not have the right to disclose medical information pertaining to your child or your family. Even if you do sign the form, educational workers have to be very careful who accesses private medical information. A teacher or principal may potentially face legal repercussions if any of the following situations occur:
- Gossiping about your family’s medical history with the parents of other students
- Loudly discussing your child’s medical condition with other teachers to the point where students overhear private details
- Teasing your child about her mental health condition or mentioning it to the classroom
If any of these situations occur, notify the superintendent or school board immediately. Your child – and your entire family – deserve privacy when it comes to medical records.
If it’s not mandatory to disclose medical conditions or medications, you may find it difficult to determine how much to share with educational workers. Talk about the situation with your teen and familiarize yourself with the school’s policies so that you can figure out a practical solution.
About Noah Smith
Noah Smith loves sharing his travel advice on WellnessVoyager. Before he became this confident, he went through a childhood where anxiety and worry are not foreign. Through this article, he hopes to help parents be guided off the ills of adolescent anxiety.