Shirah Vollmer MD

The Musings of Dr. Vollmer

Should Schools Offer Wellness Centers?

Posted by Dr. Vollmer on May 17, 2016

Should I child who refuses to go to school be offered an online education? Should schools offer a place to go to school that is not in the classroom or on the recess yard? These are the types of questions which came up as I spoke about childhood anxiety disorders to school personnel. Anxious children need help coping, but whose job is this? The family or the school or both? The anxious child, generally speaking, does not interfere with the classroom agenda, so should the teacher feel compelled to intervene? What about technology? Can technology be utilized to help anxious kids by using relaxation apps, or deep breathing apps? As the scientist who presented a lecture today on learning models of the brain, “it is fun to ask questions for which there are no answers.” My opinion: schools should offer wellness centers, by that I mean all schools, not just high schools or universities. Children need a place to learn to relax just as much as they need to learn to read and do mathematics. Once there are wellness centers, then the severely distressed kids can be identified and referred to a professional, but most kids will benefit from interventions such as yoga, talking to a trusted adult, and relaxation areas. How do we measure the success or failure of these wellness centers? I would say by measuring the number of children who are at home and refusing to go to school. I suspect that this number will significantly diminish if there were a place for kids to go in which they were out of the social and academic pressure of school. These wellness centers would serve, for some children, as a transitional space between school and home to make the leap from school phobia to school attendance. It is not that children will never need anti-anxiety medication, but I suspect that wellness centers will also slow down the prescriptions given to children, making this another outcome measure. Sometimes psychiatrists need to advocate for common sense. And so I did.



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