When we consider our children’s health, we tend to think of their physical wellbeing first rather than mental or emotional health. There has been a stigma that has surrounded mental health for so long. Luckily, more and more people are adding to the conversation about the importance of positive mental health, especially for kids.

We have seen many families come to Acellus Academy because their student is experiencing anxiety around school due to bullies, unrealistic standards, or difficult classes. Other parents have come to us because their student is suffering from depression and is in need of a comfortable, stress-free environment to recover. We have had students with ADD and ADHD do well in courses because of the self-paced structure and engaging video lessons. There is not a one-size-fits-all solution to improving mental health, but we do believe that online school can benefit children by limiting common stressors that threaten children’s mental and emotional wellbeing.

Mental Health vs. Mental Illness

Mental health and mental illness are not the same; however, there are very few differences between the two. Unfortunately, the differences between mental health and mental illness often confuse some people.

A child’s mental health encompasses their emotional, psychological, and social wellbeing. Mental health is influenced by everyday stressors, relationships, and activities. For example, too many homework assignments can cause stress, which can have negative effects on a student’s mental health and manifest into physical symptoms like headaches.

Mental illnesses are diagnosable disorders that change the way children learn, behave, or manage emotions, causing problems with participating in everyday activities. Chemical imbalances in the brain cause these disorders. The most common mental disorders among children are ADD, ADHD, and anxiety, as well as behavior disorders. The chances of a child being diagnosed with depression and anxiety increases as a child becomes older.

Negative Influences on a Child’s Mental Health

The percentage of children who have mental illnesses has been increasing in the past ten years. The rate of children ages six to seventeen suffering from anxiety and depression has risen from 5.4 percent in 2003 to 8.4 percent in 2012. However, these are only the reported cases, and unfortunately, there are likely many more children who are going untreated. There is no one reason for this increase, but rather a variety of explanations:

– Family life plays a role in a child’s mental health. Divorce, emotionally distant parents, or a family member’s death could all be triggering events that cause a child to become anxious or depressed.

– Bullying and cyberbullying can make an otherwise healthy and normal child become anxious or depressed. It could also lead to behavioral problems.

– Appropriate standards around school and extracurriculars are great motivators for students, but when these expectations are too high, students can become stressed, anxious, and depressed.

– Active shooter drills have become a norm in classrooms due to the number of mass shootings occurring in schools. The increase in these shootings is a reason for any child to feel anxious toward school.

Benefits of Online Schooling for a Child’s Mental Health

Fostering an environment that promotes positive mental health will decrease the chances of a child developing a mental illness as well as help children who are suffering from a mental illness during the recovery process. This environment will look different for each child. Some may need the normalcy of school to recover while others need the safe, stress-free environment of their home. Online schooling offers courses that can be attended anywhere with Internet access. For this reason, online schooling has many benefits for a child’s mental health.

Self-paced Courses – Many online schools are self-paced so that students can work without the pressure of deadlines. They can spend more time on concepts they find challenging with no urgency to catch up by a certain date.

Flexible Schedule – Most online schools give students and parents the ability to choose when to “attend” class and implement schedules based on their preferences. For example, many of our student’s complete classwork from 8:00 to around noon and have the rest of the afternoon to spend time as they please.

Safe Learning Environment – Being at home surrounded by loved ones provides a safe environment that will help enhance a child’s mental health while allowing them to thrive when it comes to academics.

Open Enrollment – Many online schools accept students at any point during the year. Parents do not have to wait until the next school year to transition their child to a schooling method that could benefit his/her mental health.

Personalized Experience – Traditional classrooms struggle to give students the personalized teaching that many students need. Even with teachers’ aids, students can still fall behind. At Acellus Academy, we use Prism Diagnostics, a practice that provides each student with a unique learning experience by filling in gaps in their background knowledge of a subject or concept. This approach is particularly beneficial to students with ADD or ADHD.

If your child is suffering from mental health issues, an online school could be a great option. Acellus Academy’s self-paced courses take the stress load off students and give them time to focus on what matters most: their health and happiness. Since all of our courses are online, students can complete course work from the safety of their home without the threat of bullies, the stress of classes, or pressure from peers. Acellus Academy, or any other online school, will not be able to cure your child of their mental illness, but we do offer students the flexibility to recover and manage their illness while still progressing in school. Contact us today for more information.

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