Mental Health Care in Schools

The school year well underway and is in full swing. Students and teachers alike have settled into the rhythm of their lessons. However, this is also the time of year when the academic and social pressures can start to weigh on a child, and signs of trouble may appear. Rather than falling completely into a pattern, it’s important for the people in our students’ lives to be alert and aware of signs of distress in our children.

More Common Than You May Think

About one in five children experience severe mental illness before they turn 18.

About one in five children experience severe mental illness before they turn 18.

About one in five children experience severe mental illness before they turn 18. But it can be hard for parents to spot the symptoms, especially when they are away from their children for most of the day. Unfortunately, less than half of children who suffer mental health problem receive help.

The good news is that a school provides a network of adults in prime position to notice if a child is showing signs of mental health problems, such as anxiety or depression. This network includes the teachers who spend every day with a child as well as the nurses, counselors, or even professional psychologists on staff. Ensuring that staff members are communicating with and monitoring students for immediate signs of trouble can make a huge difference for struggling youth.

Benefits of Care

Incredibly, up to 60% of children who receive help for mental illness receive it only in school. It makes sense that school would be an important place to address childhood mental health, since kids spend so much of their time there. And the benefits of mental health care extend back into the child’s academic life as well.

Many mental health issues can affect school performance. Around 90% of children with attention deficit disorder or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder will experience difficulty in school. Nearly 6% of children aged 14 to 18 exhibit a severe anxiety disorder that will last their entire lives.

The benefits of school-based mental health services can be seen in the numbers. High school students who are referred to school-based mental health services reduce their rate of absenteeism by 50% and their rate of tardiness by 25%. Treatment also improves test scores by up to 17 percentile points and leads to a higher increase in GPA than those who don’t receive school-based treatment.

If you think your child may be experiencing a mental illness, we encourage you to contact their school guidance counselors and other staff to discuss options for school-based support. Dickinson Center, Inc. can also help you work with the school to ensure your child gets the mental health care they deserve and need to succeed in life.