New Virtual Behavioral Health Program Developed for 'Chronically Absent' Teens Struggling With School Refusal

Compass Virtual has developed a new School Anxiety & Refusal Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP) for adolescents, ages 13 to 18, who struggle with behavioral health challenges that present as school refusal. The virtual program, which is now accepting intakes, is available online for teens throughout the state of Illinois. School anxiety and refusal programming is also available in person at Compass' three Chicagoland locations.  

According to Yale Medicine, "Most children and adolescents go to school, even if they complain about it. But 10 percent to 15 percent of students are estimated to miss 10 percent or more school days each year, making them 'chronically absent.' It's a major challenge facing our schools today—and a big problem for the families of the children, too." 

Compass Virtual's Adolescent School Anxiety & Refusal (SAR) Program provides short-term stabilization for teens who struggle to manage mood and anxiety symptoms that often present as school refusal behaviors. School anxiety and refusal can present typically across children and adolescents and its presentation is typically related to the functions underlying the behaviors. Children with school avoidance may complain of feeling ill shortly before it is time to leave for school. These physical complaints usually resolve once the adolescent is allowed to remain at home but may resurface the next morning or the night before the next school day. Adolescents may also avoid school by frequently requesting to visit the nurse's office, showing up tardy or not at all, or being absent on test days or for events that trigger performance anxiety, such as giving presentations or participating in academic or athletic competitions. 

"The beginning of the school year can be a 'honeymoon' period for adolescents; it's October and November - when assignments are piling up, the academic and social rigors become overwhelming - when we've historically seen an increase in school refusal and avoidance. This program is so unique and one of the first of its kind in Illinois because it's offered entirely through a virtual platform. Teenagers who struggle with avoiding school can start treatment from the comfort of their homes and, through tailored support from their clinical team, can eventually return to an academic environment," said Lizzie Goodman, LCSW, Director of Adolescent Programs, Compass Virtual. 

The program is facilitated by a team of clinicians with training and experience in modalities and interventions that specifically target school anxiety and refusal, including a primary clinical therapist, family therapist, education specialist, and group therapists. Together, the treatment team provides tailored programming to equip adolescents and their families with skills to manage mood and anxiety symptoms at school and at home.  

Evidenced-based interventions used throughout programming are rooted in Exposure and Response Prevention Therapy (ERP), Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). Individual ERP sessions, customized return to school plans, daily exposure homework, as well as targeted parent support are tailored to the unique needs of the patient and their family.  

Compass Health Center and Compass Virtual lead the way in providing patients with access to successful mental health services. The new virtual SAR Program creates opportunities for adolescents and families living in rural areas or with limited schedule flexibility to receive and engage in exceptional psychiatric services and mental health treatment.   

Learn more about Compass Virtual Adolescent Programs here. Contact Compass to schedule an intake evaluation for virtual or in-person programs. 

Upcoming Free CE Webinar for Clinicians 

5 Strategies to Cope with Mood Dysregulation in Teens  

Join Compass Health Center for this free 1-credit CE webinar that will show participants how to identify warning signs of depression and anxiety in teenagers and how to offer your help in tangible ways. This presentation is open to all school partners and behavioral health networks should the topic interest them. CE credit will only be available for clinicians licensed in Illinois. Register here

Source: Compass Virtual

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Categories: Healthcare

Tags: Depression, Mental Health, school avoidance


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Compass Health Center's evidence-based, comprehensive treatment model provides patients ages five through adulthood with intensive care.

Britt Teasdale
Associate Director, Brand Management, Compass Health Center