Graduate Research Paper (UNI Access Only)
School health services; School mental health services;
School-based health has a significant impact on the prevention, early identification, and treatment of medical and behavioral concerns that can interfere with a student’s learning. This study is an exploration of the academic achievement, behavior, and mental health outcomes for students who access services through a school-based health clinic. In addition, this study examines variables such as a student’s gender, race, and ethnicity on student outcomes when accessing school-based health. Finally, this study looks at the effects school closures due to the Covid-19 Pandemic has had on student ability to access care through school-based health. Due to disparities in student wellness, from mental health to physical health concerns, school-based health clinics are increasingly seen as a practical solution to address these issues.
The study finds significant differences between students who access school-based health care compared to students who have not accessed services when examining their academic, behavioral, and mental health outcomes. The results suggest that students who access care through school-based health experience a reduction in drop-out rates, higher GPA’s, more grade-level advancement, and increased college preparation efforts. Accessing care through school-
based health has also resulted in positive youth behavior outcomes in regard to behavioral referrals, seat time, early dismissal rates and school connectedness. According to Swick and Powers (2018), with 25% of school-age youth in the United States experiencing mental health challenges, school-based mental health counseling not only alleviates barriers to mental health
care for families but students experience reduced stigmatization in accessing this service, reduced suicidal ideation and suicidal attempts, and increased academic achievement outcomes.
School-based health clinics often seek to partner and provide services within schools located in low resource communities according to Anyon, et al. (2013). Often low resource communities have a disproportionate number of young people of color living within them.
School-based health care can alleviate obstacles in accessing health care in poverty-stricken communities that are typically lacking in quantity and quality of health care services. Research by Kistler et al. (2019) found that when school-based health clinics implemented telehealth as an option offered in remote provision of care, 90% of families interviewed felt this made health care more available to their child.
While young people have been less likely to become personally ill with Covid-19, according to Quirk (2020) the isolation they’ve experienced may have the greatest toll as teen brains thrive on peer relationships and friendships. A pre-publication currently under peer review by Masonbrink and Hurley (2020) focuses on the health and educational disparities of young people living in poverty and how school closures due to Covid-19 may further widen educational and health gaps for these students. The Brighter Bites program is a real time example of how one social service agency pivoted during school closures to continue meeting the needs of families typically provided through school-based health clinics.
It’s important to make the direct linkage and relationship between school-based health center’s educational outcomes and to further research this relationship in order to advance school-based health care initiatives to policy makers and stakeholders that education and health are intertwined.
Year of Submission
Master of Arts
Department of Health, Recreation, and Community Services
1 PDF file (56 pages)
©2021 Brooke C. Olson
Olson, Brooke C., "Student access to school-based health care and the effects on academic achievement, behavior, and mental health" (2021). Graduate Research Papers. 1940.