Wellbeing Matters

School Refusal

Resilience is the ability to “bounce back” in the face of difficulties and life setbacks. During the school year we have young people and their families who are experiencing a range of challenges including – family breakdowns, chronic illnesses, mental health challenges such as anxiety, depression, school learning difficulties, school refusal and social anxieties.

As a school counselling team our role is to assess and work with young people and their families/carers manage their challenges, put plans in place to support your young people to flourish, and if required help source and liaise with the most appropriate external supports. Students have access to counselling Monday-Friday free of charge. By the time the girls reach year 12 the counselling team will have come across over 80% of your girls for varying reasons and thankfully the stigma of accessing support through the school counselling team seems to have improved.

You may have seen the recent media coverage of young people who struggle with anxiety-based school refusal. This is a serious issue of concern which is currently being addressed by the federal government in its recent parliamentary enquiry and subsequent recommendations. It is imperative as parents and carers that you are aware of the warning signs and take seriously a young person’s distress about attending school. Always feel free to reach out to the counselling team or your Year Coordinator with any concerns you may have. An attendance concern is a young person who has two or more days off without a medical issue within a two-week period. Missing one school day a week adds up to missing two months of school a year. Research shows regularly missing a day of school per week has a negative impact on academic, emotional and social outcomes; early intervention is imperative.

What might you notice?

  • tearfulness before school or repeated pleas to stay home
  • irritability, clinginess, dawdling in the mornings
  • frequent complaints of illness before school or during school, such as stomach aches, headaches, dizziness on school or sport days without a medical explanation.

What can You do?

  • listen without judgment to your young person’s concerns in a calm manner; issues can be addressed if they are understood
  • check out repeated physical illness that your child reports with your GP
  • speak with your child’s Year Coordinator or College Counsellor about any concerns.

A great resource for further information: https://parents.au.reachout.com/school-and-education/school-refusal/school-refusal-and-teenagers

If you have any concerns about your young person, please contact the College Counsellors: Becky Salter, Emma Timmins or Jess Steyl at counsellor@brigidine.nsw.edu.au or phone 9988 6275.

 For support out of hours:

Kids Helpline
For ages 5 – 25yrs
Free 24/7 phone and online counselling service for young people aged 5 to 25.
1800 55 1800 available 24/7
Visit kidshelpline.com.au

Youth Beyond Blue – Specialist youth support for anxiety and depression
Ph: 1300 22 4636 (24 hours support)
Chat online: https://www.youthbeyondblue.com/ (3pm – 12am)

For all ages
Provides all Australians access to crisis support and suicide prevention services.
Ph: 13 11 14 available 24/7
Chat online, available 7pm – 12am
Visit lifeline.org.au

NSW Mental Health Line for advice, assessment and referral on freecall 1800 011 511. The Mental Health Line is a 24-hour telephone service operating seven days a week across NSW and determines the appropriate service for referral. Your Mental Health helpline clinician will assess your situation and decide the best course of action to assist you.

Online Resources:

REACHOUT.com – Online resource for young people and their parents with the most up to date information, online forums, facts sheets, apps and online anxiety/depression programs.

Headspace: Government funded free service. Help and support for young people aged 12-25 at centres, in person, online or over the phone for mental health, general health, family issues, alcohol and drug and work and study. Ph: 8021 3668 https://headspace.org.au

KYDS – Free counselling service for young people – located at Lindfield nil cost. Ph: 9416 0900 https://www.kyds.org.au

The BRAVE Program BRAVE is a free online self-help program for prevention, early intervention and treatment of anxiety in young people. It has teen and parent components. brave4you.psy.uq.edu.au

MoodGYM Online program – teaches skills from CBT to help prevent and manage symptoms of anxiety/depression. Moodgym.anu.edu.au


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