When School Isn’t the Right Choice for Teen Mental Wellness

When School Isn’t the Right Choice for Teen Mental Wellness

Depression and anxiety are rife among teens from affluent families - so when going to school seems an impossible hurdle, or is exacerbating episodes of anxiety, homeschooling with a private tutor can provide the supportive environment students need to get back on track.   

Students with depression or anxiety face plenty of challenges in traditional school environments, particularly during their teenage years. Mental or behavioural health issues can significantly impact your child’s daily activities, from social interactions to academic performance to their overall well-being. 

A study conducted a while back by Cheryl Rampage, PhD, published by Clinical Science Insights in 2008, showed that anxiety among affluent children is up to 30% higher than teens of other socioeconomic backgrounds, and 20% are diagnosed with clinically significant depression, 3x the US national average. 

This article by Suniya S. Luthar Ph.D, published in Psychology Today (first published in 2013, and reviewed in 2016), offers a fascinating glimpse into the mental and behavioural struggles affluent children face. 

“They show disturbingly high rates of substance use, depression, anxiety, eating disorders, cheating, and stealing. It gives a whole new meaning to having it all.” - Suniya Luthar

(You can also listen to Luthar talking about this on this podcast.)

One of the main issues students face at school is the overwhelming pressure for academic achievement and social conformity. These can lead to fear and worry, which, in turn, often lead to avoidance behaviours, where students may miss classes or turn down extracurricular activities, further isolating them from their peers and exacerbating their anxiety or depression. 

How are schools tackling student mental health?

In the UK and US, particularly, student mental health is given far more attention than a generation ago. 

In both the US and the UK, mental health staff are being appointed in schools to lead comprehensive well-being programs, focused on fostering good mental health, identifying and supporting students in need, and collaborating with local mental health services. They aim to ensure that mental health discussions are normalised and supported at school. Bullying, racism, and homophobia is being swiftly dealt with, according to any school policy you’d care to read, and students are encouraged to talk to school counsellors, their teachers and friends about their mental health. 

But what happens when this isn’t enough? What do parents and educators do when all these great measures and ideas schools are acting on aren’t helping their child with their anxiety or depression? 

Depression and anxiety can affect all areas of a child’s life, including sleep, diet, mental and physical health, and self-esteem. Students may be disengaged, struggle to form or maintain relationships with peers and teachers, and lose interest in future planning or activities they previously enjoyed. Importantly, anxiety and depression can impair working memory, making it difficult for students to retain new information or recall previously learned material. 

Homeschooling relieves the pressure on students

By providing a safe, controlled environment tailored to a student's emotional and academic needs, homeschooling for a period of time can set a child back on a happier path.  The personalised attention from a homeschool tutor allows for a gentler pace of learning and in ways that reduce stress and anxiety about academic performance. If peer pressure or friendship groups are the cause of the students’ problems, removing the social pressures that comes with school can help students focus on learning without the fear of judgement or bullying. 

Our Education Manager, Nathaniel Hannan, who was a private tutor with Tutors International for many years, has plenty of experience with teenage mental health issues:

“Several of my students have grappled with mental health challenges, notably depression and anxiety. Homeschooling offers a nurturing environment that bolsters their mental well-being, free from the disruptive influences of bullying and peer issues found in schools. Homeschooling presents the opportunity to de-emphasize social media use and status-seeking that compounds the factors that lead to depression and anxiety problems."

Fostering positive social experiences

It's crucial for homeschooled students to still have opportunities for social interaction to develop and maintain social skills. Engaging in extracurricular activities, community programs, or homeschooling groups can provide these essential social experiences in a more controlled and supportive setting.

Watch Adam Caller, talking about reinforcing positive social interaction with homeschooling:

“If you think about your own social interactions from school time for yourselves, well you may have one or two friends now that you've met at school. But the people in your class at school - they're not people that you would naturally want as your friends. Those friends, those long-term friends, those strong social interactions in your life probably came from things that you chose to do for yourself: a particular sport, or musical interest, or drama, or a subject you chose at university.” 

“And so when we homeschool children, where we take them out of school, what we're doing is taking them away from all of the negatives and giving them access to much more of those positive social interactions.”

Educators and schools must be prepared to identify and address anxiety and depression among students, and provide the appropriate support. Early intervention can prevent the long-term consequences of untreated mental health issues, highlighting the importance of awareness and proactive measures in both traditional and homeschool settings. 

  • Tutors International provides an unparalleled tutoring service that matches the right tutor with the right child, in order for the student to fully reach their personal potential and academic excellence.
  • Providing a service for children of all ages at different points in their educational journeys, Tutors International is a reputable tutoring company founded on a commitment to finding the perfect tutor to realise the specific goals and aspirations of each student.
  • Private Tutors are available for residential full-time positions, after-school assistance, and homeschooling.
  • Founded in 1999 by Adam Caller, Tutors International is a private company based in Oxford, a city renowned for academic excellence. Our select clientele receives a personally tailored service, with discretion and confidentiality guaranteed.

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