Posted by: J | 2004/11/12

To which extent does one disclose psychiatric conditions, especially kids

Hi Everyone

Well, I am new at this and I was wondering if I could get some more advice out there.

Now that we know that my son has Bipolar disorder, I would like to know to which extent do I disclose to friends, family and the school. Let’s face it, there is still certain stigma attached to having a psychiatric condition.
His little brother asked him why he’s taking tablets when he is not ill. I just brushed him off saying that D. ‘s taking the tabs for his headaches.
After his appointment with the psych. yesterday, he spent the afternoon at my office.Then, of course, one of my colleagues wanted to know why he did not go to school.
My boss’ secretary wanted to know if he has this condition because he was abused.

I have been reassuring my son that he does not have to feel guilty and that he did not do anything wrong and in no way, is any of this his fault. He is special.
I am just not so sure that others will do this.

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Our expert says:
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Shouldn't it be on a "need to know" basis ? The cashier at the supermarket doesn't need to know. Maybe a teacher would usefully know, if there's any need ( based on the stability or otherwise of his condition ) as an occasion might arise when it'd be useful for him/her to know and be better able to help the boy. The brother will want to know somthing, especially as he might get asked --- say they're special tablets to prevent a problem, whioch he needs. And tell the boss's secretary, who I would NOT have told, that this has nothing whatsoever to do with childm abuse, but arrives for purely chemical reasons in a small proportion of children. if he needs at times to spend a while at the office, just say he's there because he had the day off to see the doctor about something --- nobody needs to know the details ( do they tell you exactly what's wrong every time THEY go to see a doctor ? )
You're absolutely right in how you are reassuring him.

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Our users say:
Posted by: Beyond Tired | 2004/11/12

Hi J,
Family and friends need to know at much as possible in order for them to be able to understand him, however be selective in your choices and if you get a negative response just ignore it. You also need as much support as you can get and remember this is a disease and he will have it forever. The school needs to know so that they handle him properly. I had to inform my daughters school, I felt it was necessary as our home life was not normal, of my condition and the school psychologist was kind enough to explain it to her so that she knew when I have outbursts it is not her fault. Also so that if she has any strange behaviour they can help her.
I don't know if this makes sense but I hope you are able to do what you think is necessary.
Good luck.
Take Care.

Reply to Beyond Tired
Posted by: Shaun | 2004/11/12

Hi J,

My personal opinion is that when it comes to kids, being straight-forward, & simply explaining as much as their questions warrant, is the best way to go. You would be surprised how much kids understand...

As to the friends, family & school scenario, I would say that it may be best to only inform the adults, on a need to know basis.

Just my opinion J. I like your re-assurance though...


Reply to Shaun

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