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Angelo Angelo is offline
 
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Dropping the "mental health" grenade
Old 12-02-2019, 07:14 PM
 
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Those who know me well would attest to the fact that I'm "Mr. Supportive" when it comes to raising awareness about mental illness and supporting those who struggle. It's touched my own family. But man oh man... I really have a problem with parents (and some senior students) who drop "mental health" into a conversation as a tactic to try to get special consideration or an exception to a rule. This has become the new thing. If your request runs afoul of a school rule, casually suggest that the student's "mental health" may be adversely affected if an exception is not granted.

Parent: My son wants to drop a Calculus.
Me: He missed the drop deadline. He can't drop it now.
Parent: Well, we told him to stick it out, but now we're having second thoughts. I think we should have let him drop it when he asked us before the drop deadline.
Me: Be that as it may, he's now past that deadline, so he'll just have to do his best.
Parent: The thing is... Calculus is now causing him undue stress. We're worried that keeping Calculus on his timetable will be harmful to his mental health.
*Parent goes into a smug silence that clearly indicates they think they've played a trump card. As soon as we say "mental health" surely it would be churlish and mean for the school not to grant a prompt exception to the deadline.*

Parent: My son really wants to switch Math classes.
Me: As I already explained to him when he came to me with this request, he can't switch math classes.
Parent: You haven't heard my reasons.
Me: The reasons are not relevant. We don't permit class or teacher switches.
Parent: But his learning style doesn't work with Mr. Jones' teaching style. He's lost and confused.
Me: He should avail himself of the math help clinics which are offered three days a week after school and twice a week before school.
Parent: Yeah, but the thing is... he had such a good experience with Mr. Smith last year. Couldn't you just switch him into Mr. Smith's class?
Me: No, I can't. I'm sorry, but it's a non-starter.
Parent: *Sigh* Listen... I'm not the type of parent to call up the school and ask for favors...
*A claim roundly contradicted by the fact that you're attempting to do exactly that as we speak...*
Parent: But here's the thing. And I didn't want to bring this up. But if he has stick it out with this teacher, we are seriously concerned about his mental health.

And... there it is.

Parent: We need an exception to this rule.
Me: Sorry, that's not in my gift.
Parent: Is there someone else we can speak to about this? Who is your supervisor?
Me: My supervisor is the head of school, but he's going to tell you exactly the same thing I already have.
Parent: I don't mean to be difficult or demanding...
*And yet...*
Parent: But it's just that teens are under so much more pressure now than we were growing up.
*That's a big claim, but okay...*
Parent: And all these stories about teens being suicidal and harming themselves...
Me: Sir, let me stop you right there. If you have reason to believe your son is having thoughts of suicide or self-harm, we need to end this conversation here, and you need to have your son assessed by a doctor. Right away.
Parent: Oh... no... nothing like that.
Me: But you just said...
Parent: No, I'm not saying he's hurting himself or anything like that. I just worry about his mental health. And you read so many stories about bad stuff happening...
Me: I'd hate to think you were raising the specter of suicide or self-harm as a way of trying to leverage an exception to a school rule...
Parent: Well, I mean... if this is going to harm his mental health... why risk it?

Ugggggghhhhh. Mental health / mental illness are not a joke, people. That's not a bell you want to ring just to get your own way about something. And it's certainly not good role modeling to teach your kids to manipulate others into getting their way by playing the mental health card.


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Old 12-02-2019, 07:34 PM
 
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There is no depth to which these parents will not stoop, is there? Im picturing them having meetups to brainstorm devious ways to try to circumvent the school rules, and then sharing the ideas via group text.
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lol
Old 12-02-2019, 08:56 PM
 
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Sometimes you do need to bend rules to help out someone who is mentally ill. But as with any illness, there should be a medical certificate and evidence of treatment to back it up.

I mean, would a parent say 'I feel that my child being in the class is unhelpful as they may get glandular fever at some point this year and then the workload might be difficult for them to cope with...'.
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Old 12-02-2019, 08:58 PM
 
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I bet if you told them you would make a note in his file that he was having mental health issues they would back off that tactic really quickly. No one wants a 'label' for their snowflakes - even some whose snowflakes need the help that would go along with a 'label'.
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Old 12-02-2019, 11:14 PM
 
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That's scummy as hell if they're actually faking mental health problems just to bend school policy. I'd love to call their bluff and ask for a genuine note from a doctor.


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Old 12-03-2019, 12:02 AM
 
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Oh then of course we can accommodate His mental health issues. Can I just see the letter from his psychiatrist and Ill do the referral to the Special Education Department to set up the IEP to meet his needs.

And watch them run for the hills.
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Old 12-03-2019, 03:45 AM
 
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Quote:
Oh then of course we can accommodate His mental health issues. Can I just see the letter from his psychiatrist and Ill do the referral to the Special Education Department to set up the IEP to meet his needs.


Yes, this! Ideally (though we know things are never ideal), this would cause those parents who really are concerned about genuine mental health concerns to proceed with getting them help, and those who are using it as a coercive tactic only to back off!


I totally agree with you that mental health is not something to be taken lightly or have issues "made up" for the sake of trying to get what you want.
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Old 12-03-2019, 06:08 AM
 
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When my dd WAS having mental health issues, she missed a ton of school. So much that I told her she would probably have to do summer school to make up the classes. I probably would have tried to work something else out if that actually happened.

However, she got A's and B's without being there close to 30 days. That says something, doesn't it?

I don't remember talking to any teachers, although I might have sent emails saying that her life was my priority at that time and asking for patience and communication of work she needed to do. I don't remember any specific conversation or relationship with middle school teachers, though, so I doubt there was much of anything if any at all.

Parents do need to know the difference between worrying about their kids and worrying due to mental illness. A stressed kid isn't necessarily a kid with a mental health issue.
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Old 12-03-2019, 08:57 AM
 
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Quote:
Parent: I don't mean to be difficult or demanding...
*And yet...*
You just made my day.
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This disgusts me.
Old 12-03-2019, 10:10 AM
 
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I have a child with true mental health issues. Serious enough that he was hospitalized twice before he was 16. Never was it an excuse to get out of anything at school.


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Old 12-04-2019, 06:29 PM
 
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I also have a child with severe mental heath issues, and I also abject to this. My son was 5150'd (involuntary hold in a psychiatric hospital) 4 times in 5 months and now attends a sped/nonpublic school specifically for severe and life threatening mental illness student. I DONT GET TO PICK HIS TEACHER-ALL ARE EQUALLY QUALIFIED AND IF ITS NOT WORKING WE SUPPORT HIM MORE WHERE HE IS SINCE SWITCHES, CHANGES TO THE ROUTINE, AND INCONSISTENCY IT NOT WHAT HELPS KIDS WITH MENTAL ILLNESS.

Quote:
Parent: The thing is... Calculus is now causing him undue stress. We're worried that keeping Calculus on his timetable will be harmful to his mental health.
Been there and you know what-we had to drop the class, take the F, and plan for summer school/ESY so he could manage the class at a time when he had less stress on him. I/we had to accept the consequences and make that choice and then figure out a way to fix it without getting special treatment.

We are now talking about how much better he did and how much better it was for his mental health when he had a modified day and went to school less hours with less classes. But we have to accept that this means he will have a 5th year of high school-it doesnt mean he just doesnt have to do what everyone else has to do. If you need the exemption because of mental health problems fine but you have to accept that this means you have consequences-it doesn't just excuse you from rules and requirements.

Quote:
Parent: We need an exception to this rule.
Sorry, no. He can get accommodated within his current time table and supported for through the struggles to help him succeed where he is at but no-the rules still apply to you. If you insist on breaking them then accept the consequences.
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Old 12-06-2019, 09:38 PM
 
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Are these same parents going to be complaining later when the kid can't get into Harvard because he doesn't have calculus on his transcript?
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