"Bipolar disorders are brain disorders that cause changes in a person’s mood, energy and ability to function. Bipolar disorder is a category that includes three different conditions — bipolar I, bipolar II and cyclothymic disorder. People with bipolar disorders have extreme and intense emotional states that occur at distinct times, called mood episodes. These mood episodes are categorized as manic, hypomanic or depressive. People with bipolar disorders generally have periods of normal mood as well" (DSM 5). "Bipolar disorders can be treated, and people with these illnesses can lead full and productive lives" (DSM 5).
Who is mostly Affected by Bipolar Disorder?
Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder People with Bipolar Disorder experience periods of unusually intense emotion, changes in sleep patterns and activity levels, and unusual behaviors that are typical for the person. Extreme changes in sleep, energy and activities go along with mood changes.
What Educators Should Be on the Lookout For These were all symptoms educators should pay attention to, according to mentalhealth.gov. You should consult the parent or guardian, nurse, counselor, and administrator, if you are observing these.
"Feeling very sad or withdrawn for more than two weeks Seriously trying to harm oneself, or making plans to do so Sudden overwhelming fear for no reason, sometimes with a racing heart or fast breathing Involvement in many fights or desire to badly hurt others Severe out-of-control behavior that can hurt oneself or others Not eating, throwing up, or using laxatives to make oneself lose weight Intense worries or fears that get in the way of daily activities Extreme difficulty concentrating or staying still that puts the student in physical danger or causes problems in the classroom Repeated use of drugs or alcohol Severe mood swings that cause problems in relationships Drastic changes in the student’s behavior or personality"
Manic Episodes Exaggerated self-esteem or grandiosity Less need for sleep Talking more than usual talking loudly and quickly Easily distracted Doing many activities at once, scheduling more events in a day than can be accomplished Increased risky behavior (e.g., reckless driving, spending sprees) Uncontrollable racing thoughts or quickly changing ideas or topics
Depressive Episodes Intense sadness or despair; feeling helpless hopeless or worthless Loss of interest in activities once enjoyed Feeling worthless or guilty Sleep problems — sleeping too little or too much Feeling restless or agitated (e.g., pacing or hand-wringing), or slowed speech or movements Changes in appetite (increase or decrease) Loss of energy, fatigue Difficulty concentrating, remembering making decisions Frequent thoughts of death or suicide
Classroom Accommodations "Under Section 504, the child with a disability may receive accommodations and modifications that are not available to children who are disabled." (http://ibpf.org/article/accommodations-students-bipolar-disorder-and-related-disabilities).
All of these strategies help relive stress and anxiety. These strategies also help students focus more and get their work done.
*Take tests in a separate location, without a time limit. *Shortened Assignments *Provide class notes, rather having the student copy from the board *Let the student leave the classroom 2-3 mins. early, to avoid the crowds in the hallway. *Give the student choices on where to sit, and what they want to sit on. You can even allow the child to stand, when a teacher is giving instruction *Checklist, to make sure that the student is completing his or her work. *Allow students with Bipolar, to come in a little later to catch up on sleep. *Extending Deadlines *Designate a knowledgeable staff member who the child can go to if needed during the day *Provide small groups *Update and have communication with the parents *Be a supportive listener, to the student who needs to express their feelings. *Don't argue with defiant students, instead try to focus on calming them down. *When energy is high, increase demands
Yoga and Mindfulness Activities Having yoga and mindfulness activities, helps teachers and students take a break from academics and focus on their mental health. These activities help students focus on themselves and calm their bodies.
Resources to Consider for Understanding Mental Health in the Classroom Addressing mental Health Disorders in the Classroom http://www.teachmag.com/archives/7220 National Alliance on Mental Health "One in five youth live with a mental health condition, but less than half of these individuals receive needed services." https://www.nami.org/Learn-More/Public-Policy/Mental-Health-in-Schools
MentalHealth.gov "Educators are often the first to notice mental health issues" (mentalhealth.gov). https://www.mentalhealth.gov/talk/educators/index.html
MindShift "Trauma can be one cause of mental health issues among kids, but there are other sources." https://ww2.kqed.org/mindshift/2015/05/22/how-schools-can-help-nurture-students-mental-health/
BPChildren.com This is a great website that supports and educates children, parents and teachers specifically with Bipolar Disorder. http://www.bpchildren.com/webinar
Books and Movies for the Classroom, to Help with Mental Health Issues