Are schools equipped to assist children with chronic disease?

Indo Asian News Service

New York, Sep 18 (IANS) If a child has an asthma attack in school, would the staff there know how to respond? For most parents in the US, the answer would be a "no", says a study.

While most parents (77 per cent) are sure schools would be able to provide first aid for minor issues such as bleeding from a cut, they are less confident about a school's ability to respond to more complex health situations such as an asthma attack or a mental health problem.

Just 38 percent of parents are very confident in schools' ability to assist a student suspected of having a mental health problem, according to a report from the University of Michigan's C.S. Mott Children's Hospital National Poll on Children's Health.

"Parents feel schools can handle basic first aid, but are less sure about urgent health situations such as an asthma attack, epileptic seizure or serious allergic reaction," says Sarah Clark, co-director of the poll.

"And they have the most uncertainty around whether schools can identify and assist a student with a mental health problem," Clark said in a statement released by the University of Michigan.

One of the challenges of addressing mental health is that there are so many facets.

"At the elementary level, this might include prolonged sadness, anger management problems, or undiagnosed ADHD. For older students, it may be anxiety about college entrance tests, a problem with drug use, or suicidal thoughts," Clark explained.

Parents at the middle/high school level noted that school counsellors would be most likely to assist with mental health issues.

Yet varying levels of training, competing demands and large student case loads may make it especially difficult for counsellors to develop relationships that facilitate the identification of students who are struggling, Clark said.