Mental health screening scheme to be launched at schools

June 22, 2019

TEHRAN – A scheme to determine the prevalence and incidence of psychiatric disorders in students will be implemented at schools across the country by the next school year (starting on September 23), director for education department at the Ministry of Education has said.

Since last year, all students on seventh to ninth grades have undergone the mental health screening, so, we decided to conduct the tests on students on all grades, ISNA quoted Masoud Shokouhi as saying on Saturday.

“The scheme will be launched by the beginning of the next school year,” he added.

For the current school year, screening of mental health was carried out in February and the results were presented to consultants for in-school or individual counseling, he said.

There are several types of screening that baseline testing is done by teachers, who record their observations on the system, he explained, adding, in the next step, specialist interventions will take place whether by the school counselor or counseling services outside the schools.

“For example, a student may need to receive counseling, health care or welfare services and we link them to relevant organizations,” he noted.

“Of course, we do not give up on the students and, for several months after the diagnosis, we will monitor their mental condition at school.”

Referring to the tests, he explained that screening is symptom-based, as teachers are informed of a series of symptoms, and in case of witnessing each of them on the students, they are supposed to take initial steps or refer to the school counselors.

“When the teacher recognizes anxiety in the students, the school counseling team will enter for precise diagnosis,” he concluded.

According to WHO, 10-20 percent of children and adolescents experience mental disorders worldwide, half of all mental illnesses begin by the age of 14 and three-quarters by mid-20s.

Mental health screening in schools is a very important, yet sensitive, agenda that is in its very early stages. Careful planning and implementation of mental health screening in schools offers a number of benefits including enhancing outreach and help to youth in need, and mobilizing school and community efforts to promote student mental health while reducing barriers to their learning.

When implemented with appropriate family, school, and community involvement, mental health screening in schools has the potential to be a cornerstone of a transformed mental health system. Screening, as part of a coordinated and comprehensive school mental health program, complements the mission of schools, identifies youth in need, links them to effective services, and contributes to positive educational outcomes valued by families, schools, and communities.

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