Everyone knows the significance of an Ace in a deck of cards. If you want to win a hand of blackjack or poker, you would want an Ace. An Ace can make or break your hand in a variety of games. However, there is a different type of Ace that is the complete opposite. ACE, also known as Adverse Childhood Experience, is an Ace that also has a major effect on an individual if they have it.
An adverse experience could include a variety of situations such as physical, sexual and emotional abuse as well alcoholism and drug use of a household member. ACEs increase the likelihood of mental illness, behavioral problems, and even adverse physical health outcomes. Children in group homes and facilities are already there because of their exposure to experiences such as physical and mental abuse, neglect, witnessing domestic violence, etc. Without the support of individuals in their environment, such as a school, how do we expect them to get the help they need?
So, why am I telling you all of this? The mission of a school system is to educate students to be knowledgeable, responsible, socially skilled, healthy, caring and contributing citizens. However, when a child has undergone a traumatic event, how are they supposed to reach those standards? School-based interventions should be implemented more rather than pulling the child out of their environment. School based interventions incorporate a team of behavioral health professionals and school staff.
After speaking with a few individuals whom have previously worked in the surrounding school districts, I have learned that children with problem behavior are often referred to other agencies. It seems the only school to offer on-site counseling services is the career center/learning center. School-based interventions are focused on improving social, health, and academic outcomes right at the child’s school rather than the child having to come to them. A child who has suffered a traumatic event has a lower tolerance for stress. Bringing the therapist to them could relieve some of the stress of going to a new environment and could improve outcomes.
There are so many advantages to school-based mental health treatments. Services would be available to youth year-round. A mental health clinician would be able to provide services even when children are not in school. For example, during breaks when support is limited for a child or when a child is in detention or in the hospital.
School-based mental health programs are evidence-based and have a wide range of services. A school based clinician could provide family, community, and peer support; substance abuse treatment; crisis intervention; all in one place: the child’s school. This approach is effective because it enables specialists to quickly identify a child’s issue and immediately begin care based on the severity of their circumstances.
Whether the child is suffering a minor emotional breakdown or a far more complicated mental health issue, a school based approach enables a full range of options to the school and the students.