Why Schools Benefit from Hiring Outpatient Therapists
Mental health disorders are common among school-aged children. In fact, according to a recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), around 9.4% of children have an ADHD diagnosis; 7.1% live with anxiety, and 3.2% are diagnosed with depression. This means that teachers are likely to encounter students with mental health diagnoses in their classroom. Some students with a mental health diagnosis may receive services outside of school. Still, others may not have access to quality mental health care, which can interfere with their functioning in a school environment. This is where outpatient therapists can step in to fill the gaps and provide helpful individual and group therapy to students
The Effects of Mental Health Conditions on School Performance
The most obvious reason for schools to hire outpatient therapists is to prevent the negative impact of mental illness on school performance. Studies have consistently found a link between mental health problems and poor school performance in children, and those who have mental health disorders during the teenage years are less likely to complete high school or be eligible for college enrollment.
A student who is living with a condition like ADHD, for example, may have difficulty attending to instruction and engaging within the classroom. On the other hand, a student with anxiety may struggle to learn because symptoms like irritability and excessive fear can make it difficult to attend school and complete work.
Given the relationship between mental illness and poor school performance, it is critical that students have access to quality mental health care.
Reasons to Contract with Outpatient Therapists for Individual and Group Therapy
While schools often employ guidance counselors, many districts benefit from contracting with outpatient therapists to meet the mental health needs of students. Guidance counselors are trained to address behavioral issues in the classroom, and they may fulfill a variety of functions, including scheduling classes, assisting with behavioral management in the classroom, and helping students who are in crisis.
School counselors are an invaluable resource, but they often do not have clinical training that allows them to diagnose and treat mental health disorders. An outpatient therapist, on the other hand, has specialized clinical training in mental health, and as such can offer treatment planning and interventions for mental illnesses.
When school districts contract with outpatient mental health therapists, they receive the services of trained and experienced professionals who are able to provide individualized services to students in need. A mental health therapist can provide a specific diagnosis and treatment plan for a condition like depression or ADHD
Is Working with Outpatient Therapists Effective?
Beyond the fact that outpatient therapists can diagnose and treat mental illness in students, there is evidence that contracting with outpatient providers works. Research shows that offering therapy services within schools provides students who would not otherwise have access to a therapist with the opportunity to receive treatment. Students who receive therapy services at school are also more likely to follow-through with treatment, and they can apply the skills learned in therapy to their behavior in the classroom.
Ultimately, contracting with outpatient therapists benefits everyone. Schools do not have to take on the added burden of providing clinical mental health services, and students are able to receive services during the school day, without traveling to appointments outside of school. When schools support the mental health of students in this way, their academic performance improves, and the school system becomes part of a community that supports the mental health and wellness of its members.