Break the Stigma: A Mother’s Story (Part 2)
Yesterday, Kathy began telling us about her journey as a mom of two children experiencing mental illness. In part 2 of Break the Stigma, Kathy continues to share how Max was finally diagnosed.
In the fall of Max’s 7th grade year, he was up two grade levels in 9th grade math, which he loved. It became difficult to keep up, however, because of missing school days. Knowing his love for the subject and the commitment he had shown to move up two grade levels, I hired a tutor. With that extra step, his test and quiz scores rebounded. Then, I received a voicemail one Friday afternoon that Max would be put back into 7th grade math the following Monday morning. With every action, non-action or meeting, school administrators would repeatedly threaten that Max was going to be labeled truant.
In December of his 7th grade year and after a season of doctor visits, testing, potential diagnoses and treatments, we finally had our definitive visit to Mayo Clinic, which brought a specific anxiety disorder diagnosis and treatment regimen; however, we felt hopeful for the first time in a really long while.
The Mayo specialty clinic told us Max needed to have a school re-entry plan that would be very slow. The way we had been trying to do it, a whole day at a time was too much for him to handle. I shared the Mayo Clinic documentation and recommendations with the school. For two weeks before the second semester, I picked up Max at home and drove him to school. Max would get out of the car, walk in the school door and back out. This was our first step. Then he began attending one class period for one to two weeks, then adding one class at a time. This was working! Max built up to attending 6 of the 8 class periods regularly. For a student who had missed 170 days of school this was miraculous. We were overjoyed!! The school, however, was not supportive. They believed he needed to re-enter faster.
During this time, Max and I together were also participating in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy every week. We found a therapist who worked wonderfully with Max. The challenge? Insurance would not cover the expense of therapy. Although the therapist was an approved therapist with the state’s largest insurer, my insurance declared that our network was adequate (although I could find no in-network provider appropriate to his age and need), and that they would not reimburse or consider bringing our therapist into the network. Max also has insurance through his father with an available out-of-network option, but the deductible is $16,000. Therefore, while trying to manage everything else, the therapy that was working for us would not be reimbursed. This occurred in the immediate aftermath of national legislation that was supposed to ensure “mental health parity.”
Kathy and Max's story will continue tomorrow.
Click here to learn more about mental health services available to parents. Have a story to share about your child’s mental health? Visit Speak Now for Kids on Facebook or tweet using #HeroesofHope