Poll: Parents Not Confident Schools Can Assist Child with Chronic Disease, Mental Health Issues
Just 38 percent of parents are very confident in schools’ ability to assist a student suspected of having a mental health problem, according to a new report from the C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Health at the University of Michigan.
Most parents (77 percent) are sure schools would be able to provide first aid for minor issues, such as bleeding from a cut. But parents are less confident about a school’s ability to respond to more complex health situations, such as an asthma attack or mental health problem.
“Parents feel schools can handle basic first aid, but are less sure about urgent health situations such as an asthma attack, epileptic seizure, or serious allergic reaction,” says Sarah Clark, M.P.H, co-director of the poll. “And they have the most uncertainty around whether schools can identify and assist a student with a mental health problem.”
“One of the challenges of addressing mental health is that there are so many facets,” Clark says. “At the elementary level, this might include prolonged sadness, anger management problems, or undiagnosed ADHD. For older students, it may be anxiety about college entrance tests, a problem with drug use, or suicidal thoughts.”
Parents at the middle/high school level noted that school counselors would be most likely to assist with mental health issues. Yet varying levels of training, competing demands and large student caseloads may make it especially difficult for counselors to develop relationships that facilitate the identification of students who are struggling, Clark says.
“Parents may want to learn more about how their child’s school works to identify and support students struggling with mental health issues, and advocate for increased resources if needed,” she says.