Children with mental health problems require immediate help beginning in primary school to avoid exclusion, which can be both a cause and an effect of poor mental health in later life, observes a research study.
The study, headed by the University of Exeter and published in Child and Adolescent Mental Health, found that young people with mental health issues are more likely to be excluded and suffer negative consequences from exclusion. The study, which was initially supported by an NIHR (National Institute for Health and Care Research) Collaboration for Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care Southwest Peninsula doctorate studentship, discovered gender disparities in the link between mental health and exclusion.
Relationship between Exclusion and Mental Health
Boys who started primary school with poor mental health are at significant risk of exclusion, which can be avoided with quick assessment and care. There were too few girls excluded at this early stage in their school careers to determine whether they also had poor mental health prior to starting school. Girls who were expelled in their senior year of high school experienced worsening mental health problems as a result. Teenage boys who were excluded during this period had poorer mental health than their classmates but did not appear to struggle more subsequently. Boys and girls who were excluded between the ages of 15 and 16 years may have poor, and in the case of girls, deteriorating, mental health.
Exclusion prevention improves educational and health outcomes in later life
Professor of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Tamsin Ford said: “This research provides further evidence that poor mental health may be both cause and effect of exclusion from school. These children are often facing a wide range of challenges and need both education and mental health practitioners to act quickly and effectively to prevent exclusion and improve both educational and health outcomes in later life.” According to the 2017 Mental Health of Children and Young People in England study, one in every eight children aged five to 19 has at least one mental condition. According to the most recent official statistics, exclusions reached an all-time high during the 2017-18 school year, with 7,900 students excluded, or 42 per day. Children who were excluded from school in the current study generally had poor mental health and encountered early familial adversity, indicating the need for care for vulnerable children throughout their schooling. Researchers discovered gender disparities in how exclusion affected children’s mental health.
Materials provided by University of Exeter. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.
María Tejerina‐Arreal, Claire Parker, Amelia Paget, William Henley, Stuart Logan, Alan Emond, Tamsin Ford. Child and adolescent mental health trajectories in relation to exclusion from school from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children. Child and Adolescent Mental Health, 2020; DOI: 10.1111/camh.12367
University of Exeter. “Poor mental health ‘both cause and effect’ of school exclusion.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 22 January 2020. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/01/200122194655.htm>.
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