Boarding Schools for Students with Bipolar Disorder

More and more children are being diagnosed with bi-polar disease, even children as young as two years old. In the past, doctors believed that the disorder began only in late adolescence and early adulthood but that is not the case today.

The classic form or Bipolar I includes episodes of depression that are not only feelings of sadness but also a deep despair that can lead to suicide. Depressive episodes alternate with manic periods, when the person needs less sleep, feels euphoric, and may be extremely unpredictable, even psychotic. With Bipolar II, the person experiences depression followed by hypomania, which is less severe than full-blown mania. Bipolar I can turn into Bipolar II.

Although many therapeutic boarding schools admit students with bi-polar disorder, there are none that specialize in it exclusively at this time. Usually bi-polar students are placed with children with other psychiatric problems such as conduct disorder, Obsessive-Compulsive disorder, addictions, and other conditions. Therapeutic boarding schools will accept students whose bipolar symptoms are manageable and who have stabilized on any treatment or medication.

PROS
Insurance companies increasingly cover only short-term hospitalizations or out-patient treatments. Most patients benefit from long-term daily therapy and intervention.

Children with bi-polar disorder are very hard to manage at home because of their extreme mood swings and sometimes violent behavior. A boarding school stay provides parents often at their wit's end and siblings with help and a safe break from crises.

Getting away from home and into a more impersonal situation makes it less possible for bi-polar patients to act out.

The good therapeutic boarding schools follow a daily schedule of classes, meals, recreation and study. Class sizes will be small with superior academics.

A good boarding school staff will work one-on-one with the child and parents to help them learn skills to deal with bipolar condition as a lifelong challenge.

CONS
Boarding schools should only be a last resort when interventions available within the community have failed.

Bipolar disorder is a medical condition. The boarding school should have a staff with licensed psychologists and a psychiatrist available to intervene in crises.

The wrong boarding school, such as one that operates with a boot camp philosophy, will make things worse. Some just warehouse the children. Be sure to choose a therapeutic school that understands the proper treatment of this psychiatric condition.

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