The Wellbeing of students
As well as the education and health plans required for a student with CF, parents and teachers need to be aware of their mental wellbeing. Children with chronic illnesses are at an increased risk (10-37%) of developing psychological problems. Children living with CF can display issues like acting out, aggression, defiance, withdrawal, depression and anxiety.
During adolescence, emergent themes range from feelings of difference, isolation, embarrassment, and anxiety. In these teenage years students with CF are faced with physical challenges such as delayed puberty, reduced height and low weight, fatigue, persistent coughing and sometimes incontinence.
It is important to recognise when students are experiencing down times and help them to overcome this. It is also important to provide them with strategies to enable them to be stronger mentally and better prepared for the ups and downs as they age. Talking to students about their concerns and working with them to find solutions is one simple way to help.
For parents it might be necessary to talk to your GP and access a mental health plan for your child. http://www.health.gov.au/internet/main/publishing.nsf/content/mental-ba-fact-pat
Here are some general tips from the Better Health website (link below);
- A ‘whole school’ approach to support a student with a chronic illness is important.
- Relevant information about the student’s condition should be shared with appropriate school staff.
- Maintain regular communication between the school and family regarding how the student is coping at school and at home.
- Explore possible sources of additional support.
The sooner an issue is recognised the better. The outcomes achieved by addressing these issues early are mentally stronger individuals and families.