The Growing Need for
The Unmet Mental Health Needs of Youth
The unmet mental health needs of the youth in our schools are well known. By conservative estimation, approximately 20% of youth need mental health intervention. However, this only reflects those who exhibit symptoms of a recognized disorder; not the many "at risk" children and teens who could benefit from help.
"approximately 20% of youth need
mental health intervention"
Unfortunately, as few as one-sixth to one-third of young people with diagnosable disorders receive the help they need, and, of those who do, for more than half that assistance is inadequate. The numbers further decline regarding the youth “at risk” who for the most part do not receive any help whatsoever.
Unique opportunity schools provide to service those Mental Health Needs
It happens to be that for the small percentage of youth who do receive services in The United States, most receive them within a school setting, being that 50 million youth attend 100,000 public schools. The fact that these children are in schools offers unparalleled access to them for addressing their educational, emotional, and behavioral needs.
The government in 2003 reported “...children with severe emotional disturbances have the highest rates of school failure. 50% of these students drop out of high school, compared to 30% of all pupils with disabilities. Because of this strong parallel between emotional health and school success, schools must be partners in the mental health care of our children.”
Aside from greater access to diagnosis and intervention, school-based clinicians, whether face to face or offering Online Mental Health therapy, offer other advantages to the youth. For example, within a school setting, there is often a reduced stigma for seeking help. Moreover, there are improved opportunities for the coordination of mental health services with educational programs. It is clear that school-based services are the child’s best bet.
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Growth of Virtual (Online) Schools
Enter Virtual Schools, where growth has exploded over the past 20 years. Since the mid-90s, Virtual High Schools have seen student enrollments in supplemental courses grow by about 10 percent annually. Currently, 5 million of the nation’s 54 million K-!2 students have taken at least one online class with over 300,000 enrolled online full-time in the 2013-2014 school year.
Furthermore, the advantages of virtual schools will ensure that growth continues. Aside from being cheaper than traditional classrooms, many online students have individual needs that are better served by Virtual Schools; they are aspiring actors or traveling athletes, physically challenged or transgendered (thus liable to threats in a brick and mortar schools). What’s more, these schools are very helpful to the special-needs student.
Virtual Schools have an acute need for Online Mental Health Therapists
Studies have shown rising anxiety, depression and behavioral disorders among teens. According to Psychology Today teens are five to eight times more likely to suffer from depression than they were 50 years ago. The result- many adolescents are just terrified to go to school.
To be sure, there are alternative schools that have helped those with severe psychological problems. However, some beset with these issues will no longer consider attending school. The virtual school has become their answer. Although they feel paralyzed in a classroom among other students, continuing their education online can be the key to their remaining in school until graduation.
While Online Mental Health Therapy is often preferable for students attending traditional schools, for those in Virtual Schools it is “a no-brainer”. Aside from the privacy and personal attention the Internet provides, these children are familiar and comfortable doing just about anything online, and often prefer it! It seems clear that as the number of Virtual School continues to increase, so will the demand for Online Mental Health Therapists.
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