January 21, 2010

School Support Lacking for Students' Emotional, Behavioral Issues

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Reviewed by: 
Joseph V. Madia, MD By:

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School psychologists, counselors and social workers are often the first line of support for children with behavioral, emotional or family problems. Problems can range from attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and homelessness to depression and bullying--all of which can make academic success a challenge.
The C.S. Mott Children's Hospital National Poll on Children's Health asked nearly 1,100 parents across the U.S. to grade their children's public schools on how well they support children with behavioral, emotional or family problems.

Thirty-seven percent of parents gave primary schools an A for support for children with ADHD and other behavioral problems, and 34 percent gave an A for support for children with emotional or family problems. Twenty-two percent of parents gave secondary schools an A for support for children with behavioral, emotional or family problems.

In contrast, for overall education 52 percent of parents gave primary schools an A and 38 percent of parents gave secondary schools an A.

"According to national estimates, about 20 percent of school-age children need formal mental health services related to conditions [such as] autism, attention deficit disorder, depression and eating disorders," says Matthew Davis, M.D., M.A.P.P., director of the poll and associate professor of pediatrics and internal medicine at the U-M Medical School. "As many as 50 percent of children need emotional support to deal with difficulties in family, peer or other relationships. Our findings indicate that parents think schools are doing better with educational goals than with emotional and behavioral support."

In the current economic climate, some stakeholders argue that school funds should be restricted to instructional services. However, drastic cuts to student support services may work against instructional objectives if behavioral or emotional problems interfere with children's ability to learn, Davis says.

"As a new semester begins for many junior high and high school students, it's essential for parents to communicate with their children's teachers about emotional, behavioral and family concerns that they worry may affect children's school performance," says Davis.

If parents find school resources declining due to budget constraints and need assistance, Davis suggests they start with their primary care providers, who can help direct them to appropriate services in the community.

Contact:
Jessica Soulliere
734-764-2220
[email protected]

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Reviewed by: 
Joseph V. Madia, MD
Review Date: 
September 21, 2010

Last Updated:
December 3, 2013