What Is the Role of Behavioral Health Professionals in Schools?

Behavioral and mental health challenges are not restricted to specific age groups or professions. These conditions can affect anyone at any age, and young people are most at risk.

Behavioral Health Professionals in Schools

Students struggle to cope with the pressures of education by living up to their parents’ expectations and fitting in with their peer group, to name a few. 

Schools’ behavioral health professionals can provide critical support to students struggling with their mental health. In addition to that, these professionals bring together students, teachers, and parents to help establish positive habits and routines that last long after graduation. 

What is Behavioral Health?

The terms behavioral and mental health are often used synonymously, but there are substantial differences. Behavioral health care is specifically concerned with how daily habits and routines influence a person’s well-being. Positive behaviors contribute to balancing physical and mental health, whereas negative behaviors can jeopardize this balance. 

Mental health care, on the other hand, is less focused on cognitive behaviors. Instead, this field is more concerned with a person’s overall state of mind. 

Behavioral health care aims to help those with mental health challenges identify detrimental habits and develop better alternatives. 

Why is Behavioral Health Care Important in Schools?

School-age and college-age children, adolescents, and young people face numerous challenges to their mental and behavioral health almost daily. Bullying has made headlines for several years, while some students face family issues that influence their behavioral health. Others may struggle under the pressure of having to achieve outstanding grades. 

While these are only examples, too much stress and pressure can lead to young people developing behavioral and mental health conditions. Over the past two years, the coronavirus pandemic has further added to mental health challenges. Consequently, the U.S. News website reports that nearly 50% of all high schoolers expressed “persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness” in a 2021 survey. 

The same research conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also showed that one in five high school-age kids had seriously considered suicide. The CDC calls this situation a mental health crisis. Schools and colleges are ideally placed to connect with their students and engage them to help improve overall mental health and navigate behavioral health challenges. 

ADHD, anxiety problems, behavior problems, and depression are the most commonly diagnosed mental disorders in children.

School-Age Behavioral and Mental Health Challenges in Numbers

Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), anxiety, and behavioral problems are school-age children’s most commonly diagnosed mental health conditions. Those conditions affect nearly one in ten students. But only over 50% of those struggling receive the treatment they need to improve. 

Depression is another common mental health challenge in children and young adults during their school and college years. Over the past two decades, the incidence of depression and anxiety among the school-age and college-age population has grown. 

The pandemic further exacerbated these problems. High-schoolers were sent home to study remotely with the help of their parents. College students faced their challenges. Some returned home and looked remotely. Others stayed on or returned to campus, only to find they needed to adapt to an entirely new campus life. Add to that the uncertainty surrounding graduation and the job market, and it becomes clear why behavioral health support is critical. 

How Behavioral Health Professionals in Schools and Colleges Can Help

During their years of full-time education, most students spend more time in school or college than they spend with their parents and families. It is one of the reasons schools and other educational institutions are ideally placed to provide guidance and support. 

Behavioral health care aims to help those with mental and behavioral health challenges develop positive habits that support their overall health in the long term. In an educational context, one of the leading roles of behavioral health professionals is to assess students and identify those at risk of developing long-term problems. 

The next step in offering behavioral health care in educational institutions is one-on-one counseling. While general school counselors often hold the relevant qualifications, their remit is more extensive. In most cases, that would leave school counselors without the time and capacity to offer one-on-one counseling. 

Specialist behavioral health care professionals can fill this gap and help address the following concerns, among others:

  • Stress-related to academic performance
  • Social anxiety and loneliness
  • Peer pressure
  • Alcohol and substance abuse
  • Family trouble
  • Etc. 

Apart from offering a safe place to talk openly, behavioral health professionals can help their clients identify problematic behaviors and replace them with more positive ones. While behavioral health counseling can show results quickly, students of any age usually need more than one session. They also benefit from having an opportunity to gradually consolidate new habits and make changes. 

How Educational Institutions Can Integrate Behavioral Health Care

Behavioral and mental health problems in schools and colleges can manifest differently. Some students struggle to concentrate and study efficiently, and others turn to alcohol and other substances to cope with stress. 

Hiring an entire team of specialists may sound like the ideal solution, but it is generally unrealistic for most institutions. Instead, schools and colleges can offer these services with the help of a proven, experienced partner. TrueCare™ has built a reputation for delivering high-quality, high-value behavioral health care services that allow flexible access. Schools and colleges access a vast network of behavioral health specialists without being tied to a long-term contract. Instead, TrueCare™’s services are accessible as and when they are needed. 

About TrueCare™

TrueCare™ is a nationwide Health & Wellness platform for families and businesses providing end-to-end solutions for COVID-19 testing, screening, vaccination, home care, and corporate well-being services.

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