Mental Health Awareness Week: Ryan’s Story

Mental Health Awareness Week: Ryan’s Story

News article from May 10, 2022

For many children and young people like Ryan, the transition back to school after the pandemic has been difficult, and a contributing factor towards feelings of anxiety.  Ryan was feeling anxious about going to school and, as a result, his attendance was dropping significantly and his school was worried he was at risk of Elective Home Education (EHE).

Families like Ryan’s are still recovering from the pandemic as well as coping with the stresses of the rising cost of living. They need support, but schools are so over-stretched they don’t have the capacity to provide it. Our practitioners have the time and resources to unpick the complex problems that can stop children engaging with school. They can signpost help and increase capacity in schools so teachers can focus on teaching. Bespoke family support linking home and school  is making a real difference to families like Ryan’s. By working with our practitioner Amy to tackle the factors causing his anxiety, Ryan is now much happier at school and his attendance has risen by 4% in just 2 months.

The situation

Ryan had no coping strategies to help him get to school, and overcome the anxieties he felt about spending time there. He was so anxious that he was struggling to leave the house.

At school Ryan was being bullied, and he lacked the confidence to speak to teachers about this, meaning that he would bottle it up until he got home and could tell his parents, causing them a lot of stress and upset.

Ryan found things like sitting in assemblies very difficult, and a number of physical health issues including recurring nosebleeds and headaches heightened Ryan’s feelings of anxiety towards being in school. His resistance to going to school was severely impacting his life at home, and putting a lot of pressure on his home life.

Ryan’s dad has sciatica in his back, and Ryan’s mum cares for him. Mum also has diabetes and was in hospital last year following a severe hypo. Ryan’s resistance to attending school was causing her a lot of stress, and had caused her to experience further hypos. This further heightened Ryan’s anxieties towards being in school, as he was worried something might happen to them while he was away from them.

Ryan’s older brother had also faced struggles with his mental health and had to be home educated just before his GCSE exams because he wasn’t coping in school. This caused Ryan to feel like he needed to do the same thing, and increased his resistance to being in school.

How did School-Home Support help?

At first, our practitioner Amy would go with Ryan on short walks from his house, finding things to distract him from the anxieties he was feeling. 

Then Amy worked with Ryan’s school to establish a part-time school timetable, enabling him to develop better coping strategies and gradually increase the time he felt he could spend in school. Small changes, like allowing Ryan to sit on a chair during assemblies, helped to resolve some of the anxieties he felt around being in school. 

Amy supported Ryan to attend the school lunch club, so he could stay away from the bullies and make new friends. Amy also worked with mum to increase her confidence in speaking to school about the bullying issues, meaning mum was able to arrange a meeting with the school which resolved the bullying.

With support, Ryan now also has regular contact with his GP and the resolution of some of his physical health needs has allowed him to push himself towards spending more time in school with less fear of these issues arising. During the school day, Ryan has the opportunity to speak to mum and dad on the phone if he feels he needs to and has weekly meetings with the School Counsellor.

As a result of Amy’s interventions and her ongoing support, Ryan’s attendance is improving and he is now completing full days in school. Alongside his attendance increasing, his confidence is growing and he is able to talk more openly about how he is feeling. Through a variety of distraction coping strategies, Ryan is finding new ways to successfully manage the causes of his anxiety and ensure that they do not stand in the way of him attending school.

Back to the list of news articles