School-Based Mental Health Services
The Committee on School Health of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has issued a new policy statement entitled, “School-Based Mental Health Services.” The statement appears in the June 2004 issue of Pediatrics and is available online athttp://pediatrics.aappublications.org/cgi/reprint/113/6/1839.
Because up to 20 percent of children and adolescents have mental health problems, physicians must work closely with school-based programs to improve access to mental health resources, according to the AAP. During the past 20 years, the percentage of youth with psychosocial problems has grown from 7 to 19 percent. The AAP recommends that mental health programs be an integral part of a school’s environment, and that these programs work closely with a child’s primary care physician or “medical home” to ensure optimal care. Strict confidentiality is critical to maintaining a successful mental health program, except in instances when the safety of students, family members, or staff is threatened.