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Supporting Children with Medical
and Mental Health Needs at School


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OCD is an anxiety related condition and affects people of all ages.

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Causes of OCD

  • About 1 in 50 people are affected by OCD. Some people will be very seriously affected making everyday living a challenge.
  • Some people may be more susceptible to OCD if they have a history of OCD within the family.
  • Young people who are more prone to worrying about things may be more at risk of developing symptoms of OCD.
  • For some, life changes resulting in the need to take on additional responsibility can trigger OCD, for example, puberty, the birth of a child. 
  • Some personality types may be more susceptible, being neat, meticulous, methodical, setting high standards, though normally helpful behaviours, they may slip into OCD if they become too extreme. 

Symptoms of OCD

  • Repetitive and intrusive thoughts
  • Impulses and doubts that are very hard to ignore. 
  • Carrying out rituals or movements repetitively in the hope that this will alleviate some of the fears and anxiety
  • Common obsessions may include contamination and germs, causing harm to oneself or to others.  
  • Upsetting sexual, violent or blasphemous thoughts, the ordering or arrangement of objects and worries about throwing things away are also common.
  • Compulsions can be described as purposeful and repetitious acts that the person feels compelled to carry out. These may include actions such as repetitive hand washing, cleaning, checking, counting and hoarding.

Treatment for OCD

  • Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) has been found to be an effective treatment for many sufferers. This is a treatment that helps sufferers change the way they think and behave so they can feel better and get on with life. 
  • Exposure and response prevention (ERP) is a type of cognitive therapy based on exposure to the fear while attempting to stop the compulsive behaviour and waiting for the anxiety to go away. This is a way to stop compulsive behaviours and anxieties from strengthening each other. 
  • Medication in the form of SSRIs (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors) can help to reduce obsessions and compulsions. 

Supporting students with OCD

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  • Recognise that this is a serious mental health condition that can severely limit a student’s ability to fully participate in school life. 
  • Take some time to read about what OCD really is rather than think it is simply about repeating actions. See More Information. 

Managing stress

  • Symptoms can be exacerbated by stressful events such as exams, changing schools or going to college or university. 
  • Meet the student and parents/carers to discuss a plan for work missed due to appointments/absence. Falling behind with work may exacerbate symptoms.  
  • Alert the school’s examination officer to the possibility of special consideration arrangements for public exams. If appropriate seek supporting evidence from the GP/ CBT therapist. 

Supporting treatment

  • Accommodate therapy appointments, they may be frequent at the start of intensive treatment such as ERP.
  • Support to carry out any prescribed treatments is important particularly if it requires making changes to the normal school routine.

More information

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HOPE (Hospital Organisation of Pedagogues in Europe)