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School Resources for Supporting Child Mental Health

Just over 20 percent of children currently, or at some point in their lives, have had a debilitating mental disorder, according to the National Institutes of Mental Health. 

But educators seeking evidence-based options for these children may find themselves overwhelmed with information. The New York-based Child Mind Institute, a nonprofit organization supporting children with mental health and learning disorders, recently released a guide for schools that it hopes will steer teachers and principals to appropriate interventions for students with mental health needs. 

The 2016 Children's Mental Health Report examines the impact of mental health disorders on children and youth. The report also describes some intervention programs that can be targeted at specific students as well as implemented throughout a school. 

"With the report, we're trying to highlight programs that are already in place in many schools, and could provide support for a wide range of student-related issues," said David Anderson, the senior director of the ADHD and Behavior Disorders Center at the institute. 

The report begins outlining some of the challenges that face children with mental health disorders, which are defined here as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, mood disorders, conduct disorders, social phobias, and anxiety and depression, among other health issues. These children are more likely than their peers to be suspended or expelled, or get involved in the juvenile justice system. 

The Child Mind Institute advocates for more mental-health professionals in schools, but, recognizing that more resources might be hard to come by, the report also spotlights some research-based program that support student mental health and behavior. 

Those programs include The Incredible Years, a program that reduces disruptive behavior among young children, and Daily Report Card, a school-home collaboration model that is also used to help children with behavior challenges. 

"If educators, policymakers, parents and mental health professionals come together to advocate for sensible integration of these approaches, mental health promotion in school may provide a stunning return on investment," the report states.  

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