Response to Stuart from the United Kingdom
Thank you telling us about your struggles with school refusal, separation anxiety and depression. I am so happy to hear that you are finally experiencing the happiness you deserve.
I’m glad to hear that your parent’s tried to find you help with a psychiatrist. That was a positive step. Yet I do understand when you say that he had no clue on how to help you. Finding an experienced and qualified doctor (Psychiatrist, Psychologist, and Certified Social Worker) is still in the year 2014 (in the U.S.) a challenge and can be quite expensive. It is important that parents interview potential therapists on the phone or in person before they bring their children in for an appointment. And parents should always go with their gut and listen to some of the input from your child as to the effectiveness and helpfulness of the therapist/doctor that you are currently using. Also, don’t give up if one or two therapist did not work out. Keep looking and researching for other professionals who can help your child.
As you detailed, the school refusal, anxiety, and depression and fear waxed and waned through your childhood and college years. Your school system didn't know how to handle your condition or make recommendations for another more appropriate school placement (which may have made a difference). Please see my link here about the school system’s role and in the United States, your child’s right to a Free and Appropriate Education, FAPE
I don’t know about the school systems process and accountability for students with emotional disorders back in the 80’s in the UK, but today in the U.S., they play an important role.
The Child Study Team (sometimes called Intervention and Referral Service Team, the Student Study Team….) is your key to getting your child help. Email them (my lawyer has a good rule that when communicating with the school district, everything should be asked for in writing). You can definitely call them, just follow up with an email reiterating what you are asking for, what was discussed and what the next step will be.
Additionally, it sounds like your parents may have felt helpless and did not know where else to turn for help. Parents should not ignore the signs (as in your case, like you crying all day in the playground or keeping to yourself during the school day or displaying signs of depression).
The school system is supposed to be your partner in seeking help for your child, so keep on top of them, so you know how your child is acting during the school day. And parents should never give up the pursuit of finding the proper treatment, doctor, or school for their child. It is not an easy journey, but it can be won.
Thanks again Stuart,