Teachers may help reduce mental health problems in children

Researchers have found that school-based services delivered by teachers and other school-based professionals can help reduce mental health problems in elementary-aged children.

"Given the limited accessibility of traditional mental health services for children school-based mental health services are a tremendous vehicle for overcoming barriers to mental health care and meaningfully expanding the reach of supports and services for so many children in need," said lead author Amanda Sanchez, from the Florida International University.

"Treating children in schools can powerfully overcome issues of cost, transportation, and stigma that typically restrict broad utilization of mental health services," Sanchez added.

The findings of the study, published in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (JAACAP), are based on a meta-analysis of 43 controlled trials that collectively had almost 50,000 elementary-aged children participate in school-based mental health services.

The researchers examined the overall effectiveness of school-based mental health services, as well as the relative effectiveness of various school-based intervention models that differed according to treatment target, format, and intensity.

In addition to supporting the overall effectiveness of school-based mental health care, follow-up analyses revealed that school-based services targeting child behaviour problems were particularly effective, relative to services targeting child attention problems, mood and anxiety problems.

Moreover, treatments that were implemented multiple times per week were more than twice as effective as treatments that were only implemented on a weekly (or less) basis.

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