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Ask the Mental Health Expert Archives 2001-2004

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Bipolar Student

Q. I am teaching a student with bipolar disorder. I have read all the website info on bipolar, but nothing tells me teaching strategies or how to help this child (13) in a school setting. Can you help me find this information?

A. Good question! There doesn't seem to be a lot in the published literature on this, but I did locate an article by Quackenbush et al (Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, 1996 (Feb); 41:16-22) that does discuss the issue of school functioning in bipolar adolescents, with a description of academic interventions. Certainly, I would advocate close collaboration with the bipolar student's mental health professionals (with the student's and parents' permission, of course), so that your interventions are consistent with the mental health needs of the student. (It is also important to rule out concurrent conditions, such as substance abuse or ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) in these children, since management may differ in such cases). I don't know if you have tried contacting the National Depressive and Manic-Depressive Association (NDMDA) personally, but they are an excellent source of treatment information. You can reach them at 800-826-3632 or at www.ndmda.org. Good luck!

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December 2001

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