More public schools are now offering mental health services

·2 min read

Story at a glance

  • The percentage of U.S. schools providing mental health assessments has increased slightly from the 2017-2018 school year.

  • During the 2019-2020 school year, 42 percent of K-12 schools provided treatments such as psychotherapy, medication or counseling from a licensed professional.

  • Services rendered varied both by geography and grade level, according to the data.

Mental health services in U.S. schools were on the rise prior to the pandemic with more than half offering diagnostic assessments, according to a recent analysis.

An analysis of the latest available federal data by the Pew Research Center found 55 percent of schools nationwide during the 2019-2020 school year provided assessments evaluating students for potential mental health conditions. The number represents a four percent increase from the previous school year.

Yet a smaller percentage of public schools offered students treatments for conditions, the data shows. During the 2019-2020 school year, 42 percent of K-12 schools provided treatments such as psychotherapy, medication or counseling from a licensed professional.

Services rendered varied both by geography and grade level, according to the data. Around two-thirds of middle schools and high schools offered mental health assessments, compared to just half of elementary schools. Further, more than 60 percent of schools in cities provide mental health assessments for their students, while 45 percent of rural schools did the same.

Schools surveyed also detailed barriers preventing them from supplying their students with mental health services. More than half said they were limited in a major way by funding, while around 40 percent said services were cut short due to a lack of access to licensed professionals.

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The analysis follows a recently announced funding by the Biden administration to bolster mental health services in the nation’s schools as the coronavirus pandemic exacerbated a growing mental health crisis.

Recent data from the Education Department shows an uptick in students needing mental health services, revealing that more than two-thirds of public schools reported an increase in students’ mental health visits.  

A separate report released last week suggests around 1.5 million U.S. children experienced depression or anxiety during the first year of the coronavirus pandemic alone.

The 2022 KIDS COUNT Data Book, an annual report released Monday by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, found a 26 percent jump in the number of children aged 3 to 17 struggling with the two conditions between 2016 and 2020.

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