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Mental Health & Wellbeing
Why address mental health in SBHCs?
Nationwide, a staggering number of young people suffer from diagnosable mental, emotional, or behavioral disorders. Most adult mental health issues begin in adolescence. Yet the majority of youth who need care do not receive it. Barriers to access include lack of or limited health insurance for mental health care, social stigma, and lack of problem recognition by adults, including teachers and parents/guardians. Under-identification is of particular concern in schools and primary care settings—two systems with which nearly all children interface and where identification can likely occur. Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC), and other underrepresented children, in particular, are less likely to receive needed mental health care and more likely to receive punitive consequences. Even when they do receive care, there is significant variation in the quality of care they receive compared to their peers. The effects of untreated mental health disorders are profound, including greater risk for poor academic outcomes, suicide, substance use, and unemployment in adulthood.
How do SBHCs address mental health?
School-based health centers (SBHCs) are the ideal location for primary care and mental health staff to collaboratively address students’ physical and mental health needs—leading to greater success in school and life. The vast majority of children and adolescents who receive mental health services access those services at school. Mental health services embedded within school-based health centers create a continuum of integrated care that improves children’s mental health, physical health, and educational attainment. School-based health centers’ proximity to students and ability to provide mental health care in a safe, confidential, and de-stigmatized environment allows for the development of ongoing relationships between the provider, student, and family to support student wellbeing throughout childhood and adolescence.
School-Based Health Alliance Resources
Want further assistance implementing and improving mental health services in your SBHC?
Together, our consulting team brings more than 250 years of combined experience in planning, implementing, operating, evaluating, and improving community-provided school-based health care, including school-based health centers (SBHCs). Learn more about consulting services here.