As many as one in five children need help with a mental health condition such as anxiety or depression. These students often have trouble processing information or focusing, which can contribute to a cycle of increased anxiety, dropping grades and missed school. One study found that nearly 80 percent of students failed to receive the mental health care they needed, and more than 50 percent of students ages 14 and older with emotional and behavioral issues drop out of school. Attending a residential treatment center with an accredited academic program can help teens integrate back into a school environment after a mental health crisis.
Fears About Returning to School
It is hard to meet academic expectations when you’re going through a lot outside of school. Added school stress can lead to teens shutting down when they are overwhelmed. Teens struggling with a mental health crisis are more likely to have attendance issues than their peers.
Whether they’ve had to miss school for therapy appointments or hospitalizations or have had trouble motivating themselves to get out of bed on time, teens are often more worried about being judged by their peers than the amount of makeup work they may have to do. They may not know how to explain to others why they’ve been absent or how to ask teachers for help. Often, teachers struggle to accommodate students who are behind in class as they teach too many students to offer individualized attention.
For many teenagers, a toxic school environment is one of their biggest stressors–if they’ve been bullied by their peers, if their school friends experiment with substances at school, or if they are struggling with untreated learning differences. Going back to the same school may not be the best option for them, especially if they’ve missed enough school that they may have to repeat classes or be held back a year.
Integrated Academics and Mental Health Treatment
Many of the families that we work with choose Solstice RTC for its accredited academic program that allows their child to remain in a classroom environment while receiving mental health treatment. As mental health and academic success often clash, we believe it is important to address struggles in both areas.
The academic program at Solstice boasts 4 general education teachers, a special education teacher, fitness director, and art teacher who all teach direct instruction classes and are highly qualified in their subject area. Offering 6 classes a semester, class sizes range from 6-12 students in general education classes, and 1-4 students in study strategy classes focused on helping students organize and manage their time.
Highlights of Solstice’s academic program include:
- Working on credit recovery. With year-round academics split into five quarters instead of two semesters, students are able to work at their own pace. Students can catch up on classes they’ve missed, take fun electives, or accelerate classes. Our program allows students to transfer credits they’ve earned to any academic institution they transfer to after they leave or to graduate from high school with a diploma from our state-certified private school.
- Learning study skills. Many students judge their academic potential by the grades they get, rather than what they’ve truly comprehended or how passionate they are about a subject. While students are given letter grades through our program, teachers focus on helping students develop better study habits by using a variety of creative teaching strategies that appeal to different learning styles.
Students with learning differences can choose to work with our Special Education teacher who specializes in teaching executive functioning skills and study strategies. She works one on one each week with her students to figure out what they need to work on specifically in school and to see if students need more one on one support in their other classes.
- Engaging in experiential learning. Students learn best when they understand why the information is important. For example, it’s useless to memorize a math equation without doing practice problems around its practical use. Similar to our experiential approach to therapy, our academic program aims to get students involved in small group discussions, personal projects, and fun activities.
Science labs involve lots of hands-on activities that are fun and can be applicable to life, like baking cookies, making soap, or identifying plants in the backyard. English classes might recommend journaling assignments or books that parallel the Hero’s Journey the girls have embarked on in individual therapy.
- Rebuilding motivation.
We understand that every student has a different learning style that works for them and different subjects that they are interested in. It is unrealistic to expect them to enjoy all of their core classes equally, but we remind students not to get discouraged by the subjects they are less interested in and to consider how they connect to things they do care about.
Our ultimate goal is to help students recognize what they can take away from the classroom and apply to their everyday lives. Many students become complacent in a school environment and question why education matters when they have other things going on in their lives or are struggling to plan for the future. We also help older students study for standardized tests, apply for colleges, and explore their career goals.
Solstice RTC Can Help
Solstice West is a residential treatment program for young girls ages 14-18 who struggle with issues such as anxiety, depression, trauma, and/or relationship struggles. This program provides three types of therapy: individual, group, and family therapy to allow girls to explore themselves in a variety of ways. Through groups on various topics, girls learn to become more aware of their emotions and to express them appropriately to others. Students will leave with the skills they need to transition into the world feeling confident, happy, and able to manage their emotions.
For more information, call 866-278-3345. We can help your daughter work through her mental health crisis and towards a healthier, happier future.