Poor mental health could lead to exclusion of school going children and devastate the situation unless they receive support from primary school level onwards, a study finds.
The University of Exeter-led study says a “swift response is needed, finding that young people with mental health difficulties were more likely to be excluded and also suffer ill-effects from exclusion”.
Additionally, the study, published in the Child and Adolescent Mental Health journal, also found gender differences in the relationship between mental health and exclusion.
According to the researchers, boys who entered school with poor mental health were found to be at high risk of exclusion in primary school, which prompt assessment and intervention may prevent.
On the other hand, girls who were excluded in their final year of school experienced deteriorating mental health difficulties afterwards. But, teenage boys excluded at this time demonstrated worse mental health than their peers, but did not seem to struggle more afterwards.
The researchers, however, conclude that both boys and girls excluded between the ages of 15 and 16 years may have poor, and in the case of girls, deteriorating, mental health.
“This research provides further evidence that poor mental health may be both cause and effect of exclusion from school,” says Tamsin Ford a professor of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.
According to Ford, such 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.