School-Based Health Centers Keep Students Healthy and Learning
Post submitted by Linda Juszczak, executive director of Whole Child Partner the National Assembly on School-Based Health Care (NASBHC), the national voice for school-based health centers (SBHCs). Founded in 1995 to promote and support the SBHC model, NASBHC's mission is to improve the health status of children and youth by advancing and advocating for school-based health care. Follow NASBHC on Twitter @nasbhc.
February is National School-Based Health Care Awareness Month, and communities across the nation are celebrating more than 1,900 SBHCs for their work to provide access to primary medical care, mental health services, preventive care, social services, and youth development to nearly 2 million children and adolescents. This year's theme is "SBHCs Keep Students Healthy and Learning."
Poor academic outcomes and high dropout rates are major concerns of educators, policymakers, and parents alike—and poor health severely limits a child's motivation and ability to learn. SBHCs, the convergence of public health, primary care, and mental health, provide an optimal setting to foster learning readiness and academic achievement while giving children the resources they need to improve their health. SBHCs bring the doctor's office to the school so that students may avoid health-related absences and get support to succeed in the classroom.
Recent research confirms not only that poor health affects education achievement, but also that SBHCs can provide a solution:
- High school SBHC users had a 50 percent decrease in absenteeism and a 25 percent decrease in tardiness two months after receiving school-based mental health counseling.
- African American male SBHC users were three times more likely to stay in school than their peers who did not use an SBHC.
- SBHC users of mental health services increased their grade point averages over time compared to nonusers.
- Students, teachers, and parents who have an SBHC rated academic expectations, school engagement, and safety and respect significantly higher than in schools without an SBHC.
Visit NASBHC's Awareness Month web page at www.nasbhc.org/awarenessmonth to learn more about SBHCs and their effect on student success; access our tool kit on ways to garner support; browse SBHC stories, videos, and photos; and learn more about touring an SBHC in your community.