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School Based Mental Health Program

School-Based Mental Health Program 

School-based mental health services and supports are an effective means of addressing the mental health needs of children and improving the learning environment. Comprehensive school mental services help educators and school staff prevent and respond to the mental health needs of students while fostering a school climate that supports teaching and learning.  

In a given year, 13%–20% of children meet criteria for a mental disorder and approximately 5% of adolescents meet criteria for a substance use disorder, while only 12% of these youth receive any services to address the mental health and/or substance use concerns. 

Further, adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) have been correlated with short- and long-term physical and mental health consequences, chronic absenteeism, school failure, and school dropout. In the longer term, youth exposed to ACEs are less likely to graduate from high school and more likely to be underemployed and financially unstable. 

Positive mental health allows children to think clearly, develop socially and learn new skills. Additionally, good friends and encouraging words from caring adults are important for helping children develop self-confidence, high self-esteem and a healthy emotional outlook on life.  

Each day in the United States, millions of children and adolescents go to school with mental health concerns that threaten their well-being and educational performance.  

Comprehensive school mental health systems improve access to all students, including traditionally underserved youth, and positively impact student outcomes — for example, with improved academic performance, fewer special education referrals, decreased need for restrictive placements, fewer disciplinary actions, increased student engagement and feelings of connectedness to school, and higher graduation rates. 

Early identification and treatment are associated with positive outcomes for both students and society, including saving money by reducing the need for more costly and intensive psychological services. 

Comprehensive school mental health systems have an essential role in reaching young people to foster healthy social and emotional development and well-being. 

Updated March 12, 2021 3:21pm