Unaddressed mental health issues could be a bigger problem in our school systems than we realize, according to a recent study by Andrea M. Spencer. Spencer, who is the dean of the School of Education at Pace University in New York and educational consultant to the Center for Children’s Advocacy, conducted the study to see if she could spot a pattern among 102 case studies drawn from students between the ages of 12 to 16. These students had been referred to an advocacy center because of truancy and other persistent school failures.
During her research, Spencer found that more than one in five Connecticut children struggles with a mental health problem, but that more than half of them get no treatment from a mental health therapist. The most disturbing thing about Spencer’s findings is that most of the children displayed signs of mental illness as early as preschool. Most likely, these children are not being helped because of the stigma mental illness still carries. As a result, they struggle through school, get into trouble with the law and often do not become successful, mentally healthy adults.
The best way to stop this cycle is to help overcome the social stigma by understanding that a mental illness is not something to be ashamed of. The best way to help a child with a mental illness succeed at school and in life is to seek early treatment. Contact a counseling center as soon as you spot the warning signs. With proper treatment and the right support, a diagnosed student can have successful school years.