School-based programs may help improve mental health in children, finds study

School-based programs may help improve mental health in children, finds study

It is a fact that things learned in school tend to stick forever in life. Therefore, a lot of emphasis is given to impart good values, ethics, education, culture and etiquettes to children in school so that they grow to become more cultured and well behaved in later years. But, school education should not just be limited to inculcating healthy habits in children. A lot needs to be done to address the emotional or behavioral problems that children usually face at this age. Sadly, many school students are gripped by mental illnesses like depression and anxiety, which often go unnoticed and give rise to bigger issues in later years.

The good news is most mental disorders are treatable and school-based intervention program is the best way to promote resilience in children struggling with depression or other mental ailments. A recent study published in the journal PLOS ONE in May 2017, observed that introduction of mental health programs at school level equips children to tackle their mental health problems and to control their negative behavioral reactions.

Improvement in self-reported resilience in children taking school-based program

As per the study conducted by Queen Mary University of London, “it is possible to promote psychological wellbeing in middle childhood through an integrated school-based intervention program informed by concepts of positive psychology and cognitive behavioral therapy.”

To check whether such a program can prevent depression in 11- to 12-year-old girls and improve resilience, the researchers launched a new program called SPARK, which was incorporated into the school curriculum. The results revealed that children who received the new program demonstrated enhanced resilience and a significant reduction in their depressive symptoms. The program worked to empower the children with tools to identify stressful situations, evaluate automatic responses and learn to control negative behavioral reactions.

However, this is not the first time that the advantages of mental health programs at school level have been studied in depth. According to a 2014 study on school-based mental health interventions, published in The Lancet Psychiatry, “Mental health services when embedded within educational systems create a continuum of integrative care that can promote health, mental health, and educational attainment.” In the United States, programs such as I Can Problem Solve (ICPS) and the Good Behavior Game (GBG) have documented appreciable success rate in giving both short-term and long-term benefits to children.

Essential components of school-based mental health programs

Technically, children tend to spend most of their effective time in schools than at home or anywhere else. Therefore, school is the best place to teach children about a how to control their responses so that no harm is caused to their mental state. The programs should essentially aim at eliminating the common negative thoughts and considering other positive alternatives to deal with adverse situations. Ideally, such programs should inculcate qualities like assertiveness and problem solving and make children capable of identifying their strengths, social support networks, sources of positive emotions and self-efficacy that would effectively increase their mental wellbeing.

Schools should focus on integrating mental health programs within the school curriculum or develop lesson plans that link mental health to other school activities. Additionally, schools can also promote positive mental health by encouraging teamwork, building new relationships through sports and indulging in physical activities.

Seeking help for recovery

Mental disorders can seriously impact a person’s quality of life. It is crucial for such individuals to get immediate help. If you know someone suffering from mental health illnesses, contact the Colorado Mental Health Help to know about various mental health treatment centers in Colorado, offering evidence-based treatment. You can call at our 24/7 helpline number 866-899-5063 or chat online with our experts for advice on the best mental health rehab in Colorado.