Miami: Teachers/staff should be able to help with mental health problems in elementary kids

April 11, 2018, Miami Community Newspapers: Teachers can help reduce mental health problems in children, study finds School-based mental health services delivered by teachers and staff can significantly reduce mental health problems in elementary-aged children, according to a new study by researchers at FIU’s Center for Children and Families. The implications are significant considering approximately 30 to 40 percent of youth in the U.S. will be diagnosed with at least one mental health disorder by adolescence. “More than half of children in the U.S. who receive mental health care receive those mental health services in a school setting, which makes educators frontline mental health providers for affected children,” added the study’s senior author, Jonathan Comer, professor and director of the Mental Health Interventions and Technology (MINT) Program at FIU’s Center for Children and Families. “Our findings are encouraging in showing how—with sufficient training and support—mental health services can be quite effective when delivered by school-based professionals who are naturally in children’s lives. … … Many school-based treatment models require that teachers learn and deliver a social emotional mental health curriculum separate from their academic instruction. Other school-based treatment models blend behavioral and mental health services into classroom instruction. … If left untreated, mental disorders first appearing during the elementary school years tend to persist into adulthood and are associated with impaired social functioning, suicidality, substance misuse, criminality, lower education and occupational attainment, and lower quality of life….