When school counselors begins working with students they can't just follow a step-by-step manual for how to proceed, because every child’s challenges and experiences are different. The moment a child starts school they cross a milestone, and their personal lives and educational environment change every year for at least 12 years. On top of that, no two students’ life experiences are the same within a classroom. Some students may struggle through school, and some may thrive, all while getting the same instruction within the same classroom. This is why counseling plans are differentiated for each unique child and their circumstances. In fact, children may also react to counseling in unexpected ways, making the role of the school counselor even more complex.
Here are some common situations that may affect students' mental health, positively or negatively.
- Satisfaction of academic achievement
- Effects of bullying
- The influence of social connection
- Dealing with peer pressure
- Access to student counseling programs
Below are some more detailed examples of how school affects mental health in each of these situations.
How School Affects Mental Health for Students
The Satisfaction of Academic Achievement
Education gives students a chance to set and meet goals, and to experience feelings of success. The accomplishment of receiving an A at the end of the semester or acing a presentation is an incredible feeling that will inspire students to keep working towards their goals. Studies have shown a correlation between academic success and improved brain anatomy and functionality. Additionally, learning in a classroom can be intellectually stimulating and emotionally rewarding, which promotes cognitive growth.
The Negative Effects of Bullying
Bullying, unfortunately, is not new to educational settings, and there are no signs of it going away anytime soon. Bullying can create physical health consequences, such as insomnia and headaches, in addition to the expected mental health effects. As messaging software and social media apps have become more popular, cyberbullying has also become more prevalent. Unfortunately, bullying from behind a screen can be more difficult for parents or teachers to notice. Additionally, cyberbullying may have an even stronger impact on students than traditional bullying because cyberbullies can follow students anywhere they have internet access.
The Influence of Social Connection in Schools
Positive interactions with other students substantially benefits students’ mental health and well-being. For example, students with meaningful friendships and positive peer interactions might be excited to return to school after summer break because it gives them a chance to spend time with their friends more regularly. Study groups can also be an easy way for students to establish a community while also improving academic performance.
KCare customer, 4Kids, provides an in-depth breakdown of how social connections affect child development from infancy to adolescence. To quote Dr. Schwartz, a professor of psychology and child behavior expert, “Friends also have a powerful influence on a child’s positive and negative school performance and may also help to encourage or discourage deviant behaviors. Compared to children who lack friends, children with ‘good’ friends have higher self-esteem, act more socially, can cope with life stresses and transitions, and are also less victimized by peers.”
Dealing with Peer Pressure
Conversely, social connections can work against students in some situations, such as with peer pressure. There are many forms of peer pressure, from name-calling to normalizing risky behaviors. Generally, people want to fit in with their peers. This desire can lead to avoidance of positive activities, such as students being less inclined to join enrichment programs if they think their classmates would make fun of them. Additionally, students are more likely to engage in risky behavior, such as underage drinking, if they perceive they will be more popular as a result.
Stacie Goran, Teen Recovery Program Manager at Children’s Health says, "Between school expectations, parental guidelines, the desire to fit in, and the influences of their peers, it’s easy to become overwhelmed and follow the group. It's important that teens develop their own identity and learn how to hold firm to their values to avoid peer pressure."
Access to Student Counseling Programs
Schools offering behavioral health counseling provide vital and sometimes life saving services. Students spend several hours at school every day, so the opportunity for schools to flag at-risk students and provide counseling on-site is invaluable.
Many studies have reinforced the positive impact of school counselors on behavioral health development and success. For example, studies have shown that school counseling may result in improved SAT and ACT scores and fewer disciplinary actions. School counseling programs also allow for a closer look into students' lives to determine if family dysfunction or abuse is present, which is the first step to finding support.
How We Can Help
School environments should be safe places for students. Counseling programs are vital to support students' mental health, academic performance, personal development, and positive social interactions.
An electronic health record (EHR) system can help school counselors manage their caseloads more efficiently and effectively. There are many benefits of EHR software in school mental health programs, including added security, increased productivity, and better employee and intern management. Additionally, maintaining paper files can be cumbersome and risk expose students’ confidential information. We are proud to support school counselors, clinicians, interns, social workers, admins, and more throughout the process of behavioral health case management.
"Whatever is thrown at us Exym helps us handle. The two things I was most impressed with at the beginning were how user-friendly it was and the amazing customer service Exym provided. I still am."
-Lori B., Associate Director
About Exym EHR Software
Exym is a comprehensive EHR software solution designed specifically for behavioral health agencies. Trusted for 20+ years, our intuitive and customizable software empowers providers to improve client outcomes, manage revenue cycles, and increase agency efficiency. Exym allows you to spend more time on what matters most- the clients in your care.
Exym is ideal for school counseling programs because it is a trusted leader in mental health software for school social workers and mental healthcare providers. 45,000+ clinicians per month use our powerful software to simplify their documenting and case management needs. Exym provides EHR software for schools that is easy for administrators, clinicians, and interns to learn and train. This empowers counselors to spend more time with students and less time managing paperwork.
To learn more about how Exym provides better outcomes for students and school social workers visit our Schools page.