Posted by Vickie McCullough on Nov 16, 2021 12:00:00 AM

Unhappy student receiving a bad grade in classroom

Mental health issues can significantly affect school performance, and some students need to take a different approach to succeed in their studies. Today we're looking at how mental health struggles can impact students and how online school can be a better option for many. A number of ICON students have faced their own mental health issues and found they are much more successful in the online school environment.


A devastating and largely silent epidemic is sweeping America’s schools. Today, 1 in 5 children have emotional, behavioral, or mental health disorders. Despite their numbers, an astounding 80% of them will go without the mental health support and care they need. Unsurprisingly, these staggering numbers mean many children fall behind or drop out of school because of their seemingly insurmountable mental health challenges.

While some students with mental illnesses can continue to perform adequately in school, most struggle to keep up. The disruptions and distractions of a mental, emotional, or behavioral issue can make it nearly impossible for some children and teens to stay on track academically.

The Impact of Mental Health Struggles

Strings of absences, falling grades, disruptive outbursts, and eventual dropouts plague many students suffering from mental health disorders. Often missed or dismissed as a “phase,” mental, emotional, and behavioral disorders among children make academic achievement all but impossible for the most vulnerable. A student struggling with their mental health can lead to a myriad of issues in their education, both present and in the future.

Mental health has as much to do with your child’s willingness to go to school and their ability to succeed as their physical health. Have you ever woken up one day and felt off, like something was amiss but you could not put your finger on it? This mental fog or being in the wrong headspace can affect how smoothly your day goes, how well you can complete the tasks you are given, and your willingness to go back the next day and try again.

When a child is not feeling like themselves, is lost, or is simply having a hard time, it can be challenging to focus and want to do assignments, which can lead to failing grades. Guilt over poor performance coupled with already existing mental health issues can lead to a tumultuous environment for your child that does not allow them to succeed or flourish as they should.

Despite this, mental health problems are not uncommon or difficult-to-diagnose issues during childhood and adolescence. These disorders are highly treatable, and with early intervention and consistent therapies, children and teens can build resilience and find academic success. Unfortunately, the United States public education system struggles to support children with mental illness, with tragically low numbers of social workers and school counselors.


For many teens who have a mental illness, one-on-one, tailored care is a game-changer. But in an enormous, institutionalized school with hundreds of students, few parents can expect their children to receive that kind of attention.

Online public schools like ICON can be the solution to keep a child on track while they receive treatment and therapies. While proper mental health help can be a great tool and can help to turn things around, it may not be enough. Sometimes the environment itself is not conducive to learning and the child will simply not be able to learn there. ICON School offers a range of options that help to alleviate the issues that many children have with traditional classroom learning.

Why Online School May Be the Best Option

Free online public school gives students suffering from mental, behavioral, and emotional disorders the space they need to succeed. Here are some of the ways that online school actually helps mental health struggles. 

  1. Reduce social anxiety: For some students, home is the best place to learn, far away from social concerns or bullying. When your student is not physically in the school, it can be a great relief and may take them away from the stress that they felt while in a classroom.
  2. Increase customization: Some students need more time to focus on specific subjects and need some flexibility. Learning online can provide just the right environment for a student suffering from a mental health issue as it allows them to learn at their own pace. If they are struggling, they do not have to sit back and fall behind. Instead, they can refocus and work at their own pace so that they can then succeed.
  3. Ensure access to caregivers: Whether the student is home with parents, guardians, or other caregivers, they’ll have better access to care and support while they learn online rather than feeling lost among many at a traditional school. Online learning allows parents to step in and take matters into their own hands if they notice that their child is struggling. If a parent is at home with a child doing online schooling, they can step in when frustration rises and help the child learn how to deal with their mental health issues for a much healthier learning environment.

If your student could benefit from free online public school, contact us.

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Vickie McCullough

Written by Vickie McCullough

Vickie McCullough is the Head of School at ICON - Idaho Connects Online School, serving 6-12 grade students throughout the state of Idaho.

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