Learning & Resources

School health services play a critical role in ensuring that children and youth have access to high-quality, affordable health care. By providing medical, mental health, oral health, and youth development services on school campuses, school-based health centers (SBHCs) and other school health providers positively impact students’ health and learning. They address a wide variety of health needs, from asthma management to flu vaccination to teen pregnancy prevention. At the same time, SBHC staff and other school health personnel can act as key partners in efforts to address chronic absenteeism and promote a positive school climate.

This section has background on common issues related to health and learning, and tools that will help SBHCs and other school health providers develop and run high-quality services.

General Handouts & Tools

FERPA or HIPAA? A commonly-asked question:

  • A school health program’s records are subject to FERPA if the program is funded, administered and operated by or on behalf of a school or educational institution.
  • A school health program’s records are subject to HIPAA if the program is funded, administered and operated by or on behalf of a public or private health, social services, or other non-educational agency or individual.


Guides & Toolkits

Mental Health

School-based health centers (SBHCs) are the ideal location for primary care and mental health staff to collaboratively address students’ physical and mental health needs – leading to greater success in school and in life.
  • Seventy-five percent of SBHCs have a mental health provider.
  • In studies of SBHC service utilization, mental health counseling is repeatedly identified as the leading reason for visits by students.
  • One 1998 study found that adolescents who had access to SBHCs were ten times more likely to make a mental health or substance abuse visit than those without access to an SBHC.
  • In one study, inner-city students were 21 times more likely to make mental-health related visits to SBHCs than to community health centers.
  • A national survey of SBHCs found the following mental health and counseling services are provided at SBHCs where mental health professionals are included as center staff: crisis intervention, mental health assessment, grief and loss therapy, substance use therapy, mediation, and others.
  • School-based health centers offer high quality mental health care by using an integrated strategy for addressing health and mental health issues. Several studies have shown that the barriers experienced in traditional mental health settings – stigma, non-compliance, inadequate access – are overcome in school-based settings.
  • One study found that students served by SBHCs had fewer discipline problems, course failures, and school absences.

School-Based Health Centers: On the Front Line for Mental Health

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