More diverse school choices associated with better mental health in child students

A more diverse school selection for families of adolescent students may result in improved mental health, new research in School Effectiveness and School Improvement suggests.

In past research, the National Institute of Mental Health has found that nearly half of adolescents experienced at least one mental condition in their lifetime.

With the recent expansion of publicly funded charter schools in certain U.S. states, researchers say diversity in the choice of selecting between publically-funded charter or private schools could make a substantial difference in the mental health of children.

The study was initiated by evaluating the data of both public and private schools from close to all 51 U.S. states between 1976 through 2016. The new research also involved data from the 1997-1998 cohort of the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth.

According to researchers, states adopting charter school laws noticed decreases in severe mental health adversities among children, in which private school voucher laws had a contrasting result.

“Our findings raise the question of whether increased school choice could improve students short- and long-term mental health,” said one of the co-authors of the study in a press release.

“It’s likely that private schools face stronger competitive pressures to provide a safer school environment and improve mental health if they want to remain open. Public schools, on the other hand, are more likely to be burdened with government regulations that make it difficult for them to control discipline policy and create strong school cultures,” the co-author concluded in the release.

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