Should I tell my child's school about his or her bipolar disorder?

Charles J. Sophy, MD
Adolescent Medicine

Telling others about your child’s bipolar disorder is a very personal decision. The stigma surrounding mental disorders may make parents reluctant, or even embarrassed, to discuss their child’s mental health status.

Sharing information with your child’s school is often necessary, especially if you plan to seek special education accommodations. However, some schools will be more helpful than others. Sometimes children with bipolar disorder are labeled as “difficult” or “behavior problems” by school teachers and administrators. Yet, it is generally preferable for the school to know about your child’s diagnosis of bipolar disorder, so they can help monitor his or her behavior in school.

Mark Moronell, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)
Most definitely, your child's school must know about his or her bipolar disorder diagnosis. Regrettably, there is a lack of knowledge about bipolar disorder in children and teenagers. Sometimes children with bipolar disorder are punished unjustly for not paying attention in class or being hyperactive or oppositional. Your child will need the understanding of the teachers and counseling staff at the school. You can help educate your child's teacher by providing information on childhood bipolar disorder with the multiple episodes of mania and depression over many years. It's also important for your child's psychiatrist to communicate ways to deal with the child if he or she has a manic or depressive episode. Sometimes, special arrangements are made for a child with bipolar disorder. Being your child's advocate is of utmost importance.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.