Mental Health Supports in School

Students with exceptionalities, particularly mental health challenges, may have difficulty thriving in a traditional school setting. Without access to intensive mental health supports in school, students may struggle to balance their emotional well-being with the pressures of school and social circles.

According to the National Institute for Mental Health1, one (1) in five (5) children ages 13 to 18 will be or have already been diagnosed with a serious mental illness.

School-Based Partial Hospitalization Programs were designed to meet the needs of students facing significant mental health challenges while in school. These programs improve access to supports for students whose families are faced with the obstacles that seeking outpatient intensive mental health services can pose.

Partial Hospitalization Program

At the Watson Institute’s Friendship Academy, we provide specialized educational programming with integrated mental health treatment through the Partial Hospitalization program for students who need intensive mental health supports.

Friendship Academy employs psychiatrists and mental health therapists on-site to provide students with immediate access to mental health supports while they are in school. Classroom therapists provide behavioral coaching to students as they navigate their school day.

Our Partial Hospitalization program is highly effective at helping students manage their mental health needs, and we have a consistently high success rate of helping students transition back to their home school districts once they have achieved stability.

Impact of COVID-19 on Children’s Mental Health

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on the mental health of children and adolescents as they have been forced to adapt in an environment of uncertainty. Studies show that children who have experienced quarantine are five times more likely to require mental health services and suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

School closures and social isolation put children at a higher risk of self-harm, disordered eating, and negative mental health, and prevent them from accessing necessary psychiatric support and mental health care that they may receive while in school.

Partial Hospitalization programs such as the one at Friendship Academy enable students to access medication management and mental health supports. These psychiatric supports are critical for children, particularly during times of increased stress and uncertainty such as we’ve experienced throughout the pandemic.

Mental Health Challenges in Children: Know the Signs

If you’re wondering whether or not your child or student could benefit from mental health supports, consider these common symptoms exhibited by children who are struggling with their mental health:

  • Extreme outbursts of aggression/excessive mood swings/hopelessness
  • Anxiety which results in stomach aches, headaches, or other physical symptoms
  • Persistent nightmares and lack of sleep/excessive sleep
  • Poor concentration and/or agitation
  • Avoiding formerly enjoyable activities
  • Unusually quiet, sad, or reserved; preoccupied
  • Thoughts or comments about self-harm
  • Significant changes in appetite

Learn more about the Watson Institute’s Friendship Academy and find out if the Partial Hospitalization program could provide your child with the mental health supports they need to thrive in school!

1) National Institute of Mental Health