Study Explores How Data on School Attendance Could Help Target Mental Health Support for Students


November 25, 2021 11:28 PM STI

Washington [US], Nov 25 (ANI): Low school attendance impacts a child’s future, not only through their academic performance, but also socially and developmentally.
Students with mental and neurodevelopmental disabilities or who self-injure are more likely to miss school due to truancy and exclusion than their classmates
Now, researchers say those absences are potential indicators of current or future poor mental health and could be used to target life-saving assessment and potentially life-changing early intervention.
A study, led by Professor Ann John of Swansea University, highlighted the importance of integrated school and health strategies to support youth engagement in education.
Professor John said: “Children with poor mental health, who are neurodiverse or who self-injure often have a hard time in school.
“Health and education professionals, services and policy makers need to be aware that children with low attendance can have poor emotional health, whether diagnosed in school or early in life. ‘adulthood.
“Absences and exclusions can provide a useful tool in identifying those who need additional support. Early intervention will not only reduce the young person’s immediate distress and hardship, but can also interrupt poor life trajectories and improve outcomes. results later in life. “
The new study saw researchers from the universities of Swansea, Cardiff and Cambridge and the NHS Wales examine the association between attendance (absences and exclusions) and neurodiversity, mental health and self-harm in 437,412 elderly Welsh students from 7 to 16 years old between 2009 and 2013.
Published in The Lancet Psychiatry, their article points out that children and youth with a neurodevelopmental disorder, mental disorder or self-harm diagnosed and recorded before the age of 24 are much more likely to miss school than their peers.

Truancy and exclusion rates from school were higher after age 11 among all children, but disproportionately among those with a registered disorder.
The study also found that individuals with more than one disorder recorded were more likely to be absent or excluded and this was exacerbated with each additional disorder.
Neurodevelopmental disorders, mental health issues, and self-harm can affect attendance in several ways. Disruptive behaviors leading to exclusion or somatic symptoms such as stomach aches and headaches leading to authorized absences to symptoms associated with anxiety and depression to family and peer issues such as the harassment.
If absence leads to social isolation and poorer academic performance, it could exacerbate mental health and attendance problems.
The study also identified important gender differences: “Within diagnosed populations, girls with neurodevelopmental disorders, depression and substance abuse were more likely to be absent, and boys were more likely to be excluded. .
Professor John added: “This fits with the view that boys express their mental distress through their behavior which in turn has an impact on the school environment leading to their exclusion, while girls, especially with emotional disturbances, or a delayed diagnosis of neurodevelopmental disorders, tend to be more anxious and withdraw from social contact. “
However, the team said special educational needs (SEN) status reduced the likelihood of a student being absent or excluded, potentially underscoring the positive impact of recognition, diagnosis, and educational interventions.
Professor John said the study was unique because it linked routinely collected primary and secondary health care data with educational data.
She added, “There is a growing interest in school-based prevention and early intervention programs that focus on improving the school environment and culture to reduce adolescent mental health issues. Other interventions included psychological interventions focused primarily on symptoms of anxiety and depression.
“It has increased relevance as children return to school after closures and blended learning during the pandemic.
“Data on attendance and exclusion could provide useful information on where to focus scarce resources. School-based mental health prevention strategies can also help build resilience, enabling students to develop strategies to manage and improve their mental health and well-being as well as understand when and how to seek help. additional. “(ANI)


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