School Refusal

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Twenty families are considering taking legal action against the Government because their children are being treated as truants when they are actually missing school due to mental health conditions. Thousands of families face fines or prosecution for their child’s absences but parents say the real reasons such as anxiety, ADHD, Autism, depression, bullying, trauma and other conditions are not being taken into account.

Children who are diagnosed with Social Anxiety Disorder, General Anxiety Disorder and many other conditions may rarely go to school because they feel sick, get headaches, migraines, feel dizzy, have panic attacks or become challenging at home attacking parents and siblings because they simply can’t cope with school.

Parents are being labelled as bad, being reported to Social Services, being fined and are even being prosecuted for neglecting their children’s education. Their children with mental health problems are being put on child protection plans for neglect because their parents are accused of depriving them of a good education. Children can feel unsupported, isolated which can make anxiety, depression and other conditions worse which may lead to self-harm, suicidal thoughts and other negative behaviors. Often absences are marked as other, unauthorized or unknown triggering truancy procedures.

The charity “Mind” believes that many children who experience School Refusal due to their mental health issues are labelled as problem children and are being treated as truants.

The Department for Education told the BBC:
“Parents have a legal duty to ensure their child of school age attends school regularly.
Schools should authorize absences due to illness, related to both physical and mental health.”

Because schools are very focused on the academic curriculum and testing students who have poor concentration or are absent often are treated as a problem or difficult. Often absences are marked as other, unauthorized or unknown triggering truancy procedures. Schools can refer pupils to CAMS who have long waiting lists. School budget cuts means support staff that would help support children has been reduced, the system is not working

As a private Hypnotherapist and Mindfulness-based Cognitive Behavioural Therapist MCBT I am finding I am working with more and more clients from 10 years old to 18 years old who are school refusing, have anxiety, depression, phobias, self-harming and self-medicating

We must do more

Adrian Sonnex and Joel Cantor have been awarded these quality standards, Adrian Sonnex is also a Acknowledged GHR Supervisor



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