Making the Case

Growing evidence accumulated over recent decades demonstrates a consistent link between students’ social and emotional well-being, mental health, their school success, and academic achievement.

Recent research shows:

  • Physical health and mental health are inextricably intertwined, enmeshed components of an individual’s overall well-being. (US Surgeon General, 1999)
  • Rates of absenteeism and tardiness are much higher for students with mental health disturbance. (Gall, 2000)
  • Emotional, behavioral and social difficulties diminish the capacity of children to learn and benefit from the educational process. (Rones & Hoagwood, 2000)
  • Increased physical, social and emotional well-being can improve academic performance. (“Health & Academics: Making the Link,” Massachusetts Department of Education, 2000)
  • Approximately 20% of children and adolescents suffer from a mental illness resulting in mild functional impairments AND an estimated 10% have moderate to severe impairments. (Duchnowski, Kutash, & Friedman, 2002; Power, Eiralkdi, Clarke, Mazzuca & Krain, 2005)
  • Suicide is the third leading cause of death for youth in Michigan (accidents and homicide are the first and second leading cause of death respectively). In Michigan, 12 to 20% of youth have strongly considered suicide (Michigan YRBS, 2007)
  • Many people do not seek treatment for mental health concerns because of the stigma attached to it (Corrigan, APA, 2004)
  • Students with disabilities were disproportionately suspended and students with emotional and behavioral disorders (EBD) had substantially higher rates of suspensions than students with other disabilities (Cooley, 1995; Zhang et al., 2004).
  • Schools with higher rates of school suspension and expulsion have less satisfactory ratings of school climate, less satisfactory school governance structures, and spend disproportionately more time on disciplinary matters. Additionally, there is a negative relationship between the use of school suspension and expulsion and school-wide academic achievement, even when controlling for demographics such as socioeconomic status (American Psychological Association Zero Tolerance Task Force, August, 2006).
  • Low school and classroom engagement have been associated with dropping out of school (Christenson, 2002; Fredericks, Blumenfeld, & Paris, 2004; Jessor, Turbin, & Costa, 1998); Newmann, Wehlage, & Lamborn, 1992; Rumberger & Larson, 1998).
  • Social, emotional, and mental health support for students at all times in all schools can decrease the need for expulsion and suspension and should be strongly advocated by the health care community (AAP, 2003).
  • Use of Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) Strategies (CASEL, 2007):
    • Raises school grades
    • Improves Standardized Achievement test scores, as evidenced by gains of 11 to 17 percentile points on achievement tests
    •  Is effective for racially and ethnically diverse students from urban, rural, and suburban settings across the K-12 grade range
    • Improves students’ social/emotional skills, attitudes about self and others, connection to school, and positive social behavior; and reduces conduct problems and emotional distress