Mental health refers to a person’s cognitive and emotional wellbeing. A person’s mental health can affect how they think, feel, behave and learn. Poor mental health can affect a child’s ability to function in their day-to-day activities, relationships, physical health and their ability to enjoy school and life in general.
School nurses promote good mental health by providing empathy, compassion, building good relationships with students, encouraging healthy behaviors, recognizing symptoms, and making referrals. School nurses work with parents along with the multidisciplinary team in school to support all students including those with a mental illness diagnosis. The health office is a “safe zone”, where there is little or no stress to the student. If your child has a diagnosis of mental illness it is important to share the following information with your school nurse:
Child’s mental illness diagnosis.
Identified triggers that could cause your child to have a meltdown or become agitated or sad.
Identified interventions that help the student to calm down and recover from a meltdown.
Current medication list. The school nurse will assess for potential side effects of psychotropic medications and provide training to staff.
Length of time your student has been taking the medication, including side effects that may have been noted in the past.
Emergency contact list.
Your school nurse will develop an individualized healthcare plan to support your student and maximize their learning potential. Some interventions may include, but are not limited to:
Provide your student with “check-ins” to ensure that your student is maintaining a positive experience at school and build a rapport.
Communicate with the parent/guardian and the interdisciplinary team about any new triggers that may have triggered behaviors in school.
Ensure the psychotropic medication taken at school is administered as prescribed.
Monitors students for potential side effects of psychotropic drugs.
Train staff about psychotropic medications, including possible side effects.
If your child experiences a mental illness crisis during the school year, please notify your school nurse, along with your school counselor. Proactive communication concerning your child will ensure the best and most supportive care while they are in school.