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Roughly Half of Public Schools Report That They Can Effectively Provide Mental Health Services to All Students in Need
May 31, 2022

Large majority of public schools report increase in students seeking mental health services during pandemic and rise in staff concerns about studentsí mental health, new NCES data show

WASHINGTON (May 31, 2022)—Roughly half (56 percent) of public schools moderately or strongly agreed that they could effectively provide mental health services to all students in need, according to data released today by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) within the U.S. Department of Education's Institute of Education Sciences (IES). Seventy percent of public schools reported an increase in the percentage of their students seeking mental health services at school since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, and roughly three-quarters (76 percent) of schools also reported an increase in staff voicing concerns about their students exhibiting symptoms such as depression, anxiety, and trauma.

"We've seen an increase in students seeking mental health services and in staff voicing concerns about students' mental health since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic," said NCES Commissioner Peggy G. Carr. "The pandemic has taken a clear and significant toll on students' mental health. This snapshot of the pandemic's mental health impact is critical in informing the need for student mental health services."

During the 2021-22 school year, the most common type of mental health service provided by public schools was individual-based intervention (e.g., one-on-one counseling) at 84 percent of public schools, followed by case management (e.g., coordinating mental health support) at 70 percent, and external mental health referrals at 66 percent.

Nearly all (96 percent) public schools reported providing mental health services for their students during the 2021-22 school year. However, 88 percent of public schools did not strongly agree that they could effectively provide mental health services to all students in need. The three most prevalent limitations identified by these schools that limit their ability to serve their students' mental health needs were an insufficient number of mental health professionals to manage their school's caseload, inadequate access to licensed mental health professionals, and inadequate funding.

The findings released today are from the latest round of the experimental, monthly School Pulse Panel (SPP). The panel was designed to be nationally representative of public primary, middle, high, and combined-grade schools, with data collected between April 12 and April 26, 2022. A total of 830 schools participated in the April collection.

The School Pulse Panel is part of NCES's innovative approach to delivering timely information regarding the pandemic's impact on public K-12 schools in the U.S. The survey provides reliable data focused on virus spread mitigation strategies, learning modes offered by schools, student and staff quarantine prevalence, and mental health needs of, and services provided to, students and staff, as reported by principals in U.S. public schools.

This is the fifth experimental data product from the School Pulse Panel. Experimental data products are innovative statistical products created using new data sources or methodologies. Experimental data may not meet all NCES quality standards but are of sufficient benefit to data users in the absence of other relevant products to justify release. NCES clearly identifies experimental data products upon their release.

The data released today can be found at the COVID-19 dashboard at https://ies.ed.gov/schoolsurvey/.

Key Findings:

Mental Health & Well-Being

Quarantine Prevalence

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The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), a principal agency of the U.S. Federal Statistical System, is the statistical center of the U.S. Department of Education and the primary federal entity for collecting and analyzing data related to education in the U.S. and other nations. NCES, located within the Institute of Education Sciences (IES), fulfills a congressional mandate to collect, collate, analyze, and report complete statistics on the condition of American education; conduct and publish reports; and review and report on education activities internationally.

The Institute of Education Sciences (IES) is the independent and nonpartisan statistics, research, and evaluation arm of the U.S. Department of Education. Its mission is to provide scientific evidence on which to ground education practice and policy and to share this information in formats that are useful and accessible to educators, parents, policymakers, researchers, and the public.

Contact: National Center for Education Statistics
Annual Reports and Information Staff
Aris.nces@ed.gov or James Elias, Hager Sharp, jelias@hagersharp.com