More public schools now offer mental health services

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  • In the 2019-20 school year, 42% of K-12 schools provided treatment such as psychotherapy, medication, or counseling from a licensed professional.

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

Analysis the latest available federal data from the Pew Research Center found that 55% of schools nationwide in the 2019-2020 school year provided assessments assessing students for potential mental health issues. This number represents a four percent increase from the previous school year.

Still, a smaller percentage of public schools were offering students treatments for the conditions, the data showed. In the 2019-20 school year, 42% of K-12 schools provided treatment such as psychotherapy, medication, or counseling from a licensed professional.

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

The schools surveyed also detailed the barriers preventing them from providing their students with mental health services. More than half said they were significantly limited by funding, while around 40% said services had been interrupted 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 schools nationwide as the coronavirus pandemic has exacerbated a growing mental health crisis.

Recent data from the Ministry of Education shows an increase in the number of students in need of mental health services, revealing that more than two thirds of public schools reported an increase in student mental health visits.

A separate report released last week suggests that around 1.5 million American children suffered from depression or anxiety in the first year of the coronavirus pandemic alone.

The KIDS COUNT 2022 data book, an annual report released Monday by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, found a 26% increase in the number of children ages 3 to 17 experiencing both conditions between 2016 and 2020.

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