Looking for high school that supports kids with anxiety


Im moving to the Bay Area soon with my 15 year old son who had PANDAS several years ago and suffers from some lingering anxiety. If anyone has any info on high schools (public or private) that has a comprehensive plan for kids when they have panic attacks, or experience general anxiety, I would appreciate the help. He’s very bright but because he had to be home schooled for a few years due to getting treatment, he might have some trouble with huge work loads. Looking for a smaller school where the faculty and student body are supportive. Thank you so much! Take good care everyone!

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I would suggest the Summit public charter schools. A lot of the school is reverse classroom format so be sure it is a good fit first. However they have mentor groups and you stay with your group for all four years so the other students really get to know you. The school is small 100 per grade and so there is already a teacher you can go to. 


I would highly recommend Bayhill High School in Berkeley. They are a NPS.

Best wishes.

Take a look at Maybeck in Berkeley. It is small, supportive, joyful, and calm, with great teachers and administrators -- they can adeptly provide accommodations and adjustments without hassle or headaches. My son just finished 9th grade year there -- it was a wonderful experience. And, they transitioned to online teaching very smoothly in March. My son continued to have interesting assignments, classroom discussions, check-ins with teachers, contact groups, and all-school events from home. I feel very lucky that he had such a great year. 

You might also look at Orinda Academy. I don't have any personal experience with it, but have heard good things. 

Good luck with your move and welcome (in advance) to the Bay Area!  

I know one teen with anxiety and panic attacks who had a good experience at Orinda Academy. 

It sounds like you are looking for a school like Holden High School in Orinda. It is super small (40 students total) and very supportive. Check them out at holdenhigh.org. 


You might want to check out Orinda Academy.  It's a small private school in Orinda, and they have wonderful support for kids with anxiety. They have two counselors that are there to support the students, as well as an amazing head of school, Sue Porter, who is a psychologist as well, and has a wonderful rapport with all of the students. The teachers are so dedicated to the students, and because the class sizes are so small, they really know each student very well. The classes are academically rigorous and at times, challenging, but the teachers are very understanding and are willing to adapt or modify if there are difficulties with completing an assignment, or meeting a deadline, due to learning differences or emotional issues.  My son struggles with anxiety, and it's been a very supportive atmosphere for him.  Please feel free to contact me, and I'd happy to chat.  Take care and good luck with your search!

You didn't mention if your child is in a social group, getting social group therapy and/or individual therapy, but you may want to check out Sue Diamond.  Since your child has been homeschooled, your son may benefit by social group therapy.  Sue is an amazing professional and has been conducting groups via zoom during the pandemic. 

Additionally, have you checked SOS for students in Montclair?  Beth Samuelson runs a fantastic program to help with executive functioning and balancing workloads. 

We could not have done it without Sue and Beth! 

 Good Luck!!

I highly recommend Holden High School. in Orinda.  My daughter is a student there.  As mentioned previously, there are less than 40 students.  It's a very caring and supportive environment. I'd be happy to discuss it with you if you'd like to get in touch. 

You should check out Bayhill High School in Berkeley. They specialize in helping kids who need extra support. It's a very small high school with a college prep curriculum. My son graduated 2 years ago and had a good experience for his 3 years there - very small classes, flexible and customized curriculum, and very caring, engaged teachers who genuinely like teenagers including lots of great male role models. One of my son's friends at Bayhill was a young woman who had intense anxiety issues but was extremely bright and very academically motivated. She really blossomed there. It might be a great place for your son.

Please check out Holden High School, a small school in Orinda that provides extra support for students with anxiety or depression, as well as a manageable work load. Our son just graduated and Holden was a wonderful, transformative environment for him, where he learned to handle his anxiety and thrive. The school is small (40 students) and provides a small, nurturing community where each student is seen as an individual. One of the school's co-directors is a licensed therapist who supervises interns who provide weekly check-in sessions for every student.

The school attracts students who are looking for a small, personalized high school for a variety of reasons. Dealing with anxiety and depression are just some of the reasons students attend. Students who want to explore independent interests, take community college classes, learn through practical experience, or explore the arts all find a place at Holden. There is a learning specialist on staff, and the small class sizes (3-12 students) ensure that learning differences can be easily accommodated. Students can also take advanced classes (or extra honors work) in different subject areas, and while receiving additional help in another subject area. Homework battles disappeared, because there are homework labs in the school day to complete a lot of the work, the workload is reasonable, and the school encourages students to take charge of their own learning.

Finally, Holden was well-prepared to transition to zoom-based learning, and had switched to zoom-based classes in mid-March. No one knows at this point what the fall and winter will bring, but Holden will be well-positioned to provide a caring, personalized, and effective learning environment for high school students during the pandemic and beyond.

Please feel free to contact me personally if you'd like more information about the school. I recommend Holden wholeheartedly!

he school has a licensed therapist on staff (one of the co-directorwho pro

I am a violin teacher in Saratoga. I am part of this site as a grandparent. I would highly recommend a musical instrument for your son if he doesn't play one already. Music can be healing to the soul, just like therapy and EMDR. It resets the brain. I have observed for many years the beneficial effect of music on my students, especially now under the current pandemic.

Hi, I second the school recommendations made by other parents. I also want to provide additional detail on College Prep, a school that I am most familiar with. (My son is a College Prep grad.) College Prep is an academically demanding place, and the homework load is considerable. But, it also is a warm, open, and supportive place, starting with the teachers. (The teachers are the "crown jewel" of College Prep.) It may not be the right place for everyone, and if you want to ensure that your child can successfully transition to a new place and out of the residual health impact from PANDAS without the added stress of a big work load, College Prep is probably not the right place for your child either. But, I want to make sure that other readers do not come away from the impression that College Prep is uncaring. For my son who is sensitive and is somewhat different from most other kids, he found College Prep to be an accepting and safe place. All of his teachers had an open door policy and were actively interested and invested in his (and other students') success. Good luck with your move! 

I also want to chip in about the college prep, in particularly with regard to your son's situation.  You mentioned two important issues: huge work loads and mental health issues.  Because of these, college prep is not the right school for him.  As a parent of the current CPS student, I can testify that these two issues are exactly two of the major problems with CPS. The home work loads are unreasonably heavy, and some teachers or perhaps many parents equate huge home work loads to vigorous learning, and it creates kids who are tired of or are losing interest in learning. Mental health is a major problem in the student population, but the school refuses to do anything other than the superficial lip services. In fact the school is so worried about its "branding" that it actively suppressed any negative voices from the students, including suppressing student surveys on mental health.  What you see on the surface is not necessarily the true color. 

I have lived in the Bay Area in west contra costa for over 15 years. I have advocated for better education and better practices in WCCUSD for years. In my experience I recommend you NOT ENROLL your kid in this district, they have limited budget for helping  kids with special needs or any kind of mental health problem, and no compassion when making decisions about them. The schools staff aren’t trained to help kids in crisis and most of those kids end up arrested for misconduct or punish with suspensions instead of addressing the main issue, which is provide mental health support and resources on school sites for students with mental health problems. 

As a current College Prep parent, I want to offer a different view than another reply. My child has extremely high anxiety and the school has been amazing. The support system is outstanding - both the school counselor and the teachers worked with my student to come up with a plan that was very accommodating but still allowed my student to learn and engage. One only needs to ask, and the school will work with the student and family. True, there are many families who might feel that tons of homework or an acceptance brand-name university is the end all be all goal, but definitely not everyone and one could say this for so many schools in the area, both public and private. It's a stellar education and ideal for kids who really want to learn with others who feel the same. I'm tired of the bad rap it gets, especially when my child's friends at schools like Oakland Tech, Berkeley High, and Bishop O'Dowd get even more homework that my student does at CPS.