"Given the limited accessibility of traditional mental health services for children school-based mental health services are a tremendous vehicle for overcoming barriers to mental health care and meaningfully expanding the reach of supports and services for so many children in need," said Amanda Sanchez from Florida International University in the US.
The findings, published in the Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, are based on a meta-analysis of 43 controlled trials that collectively had almost 50,000 elementary-aged children participate in school-based mental health services.
The researchers examined the overall effectiveness of school-based mental health services, as well as the relative effectiveness of various school-based intervention models that differed according to treatment target, format, and intensity.
In addition to supporting the overall effectiveness of school-based mental health care, follow-up analyses revealed that school-based services targeting child behaviour problems were particularly effective, relative to services targeting child attention problems, mood and anxiety problems.
Moreover, treatments that were implemented multiple times per week were more than twice as effective as treatments that were only implemented on a weekly (or less) basis.