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Contemporary School Health Issues

Contemporary School Health Issues

The physical health of students significantly impacts their ability to achieve academic success. There are a variety of contemporary school health issues that pose as barriers to learning. While Milken Institute School of Public Health at George Washington University provides an extensive list of these health issues, some of the most prevalent include the following:

  • Uncontrolled asthma: asthma is defined as a “chronic lung disorder that causes airways (the tubes that carry air into and out of the lungs) to become inflamed, which means that they swell and produce lots of thick mucus.” The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates 1 in 12 children between ages 0 to 17 years have asthma. Children with asthma miss more school than those without. Studies have also found a link between uncontrolled asthma and poor school performance in children with severe and persistent asthma.
  • Uncorrected vision problems: Vision problems that affect children include myopia (inability to see distant objects), hyperopia (inability to see near objects), astigmatism (blurry vision at all distances), amblyopia (blurry vision caused by abnormal development of the connections between the brain and eye during early childhood), and strabismus (misalignment of the eyes). Studies show that uncorrected vision problems impede a child’s ability to read and school performance.
  • Unaddressed hearing loss: Hearing loss, also referred to as hearing impairment makes it difficult to hear or understand sounds. Some children are born with hearing loss while others develop hearing loss later in childhood. It can affect one or both ears and be permanent, fluctuating, or a combination of both. Hearing loss can impact a child’s educational trajectory. Children with minimal hearing loss are over four times more likely to develop speech and language deficits. Studies have found that adolescents with hearing loss are at increased risk of developing social-emotional issues and behavioral problems. 

Additional health issues that can interfere with a child’s educational success include dental problems, persistent hunger, learning disabilities, untreated mental health disorders (e.g., attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, depression, eating disorders, etc.), the effects of lead exposure, diabetes, and more. Further, research clearly shows that a disproportionate number of low-income students and students of color live without basic health supports, putting them at a disadvantage for learning and increasing their risk of moving through the education system effectively. Children’s Health Fund explains that when these issues are left undertreated or undermanaged, they can “adversely affect children’s ability to see, hear and pay attention in the classroom, their ability and motivation to learn, their attendance, their academic performance, and even their chances of graduating from high school.” Hence, students with significant health problems face numerous challenges and barriers to fulfilling their potential and achieving academic success. 

For Information and Support

Every family in need of mental health treatment must select a program that will best suit the needs of their family. When one member of a family struggles, it impacts everyone in the family unit. To maximize the benefits of treatment we work closely with the entire family to ensure that everyone is receiving the support they need through these difficult times.

Seeking help is never easy, but you are not alone! If you or someone you know needs mental health treatment, we strongly encourage you to reach out for help as quickly as possible. It is not uncommon for many mental health difficulties to impact a person’s life, in the long term. Pursuing support at the beginning of one’s journey can put the individual in the best position to learn how to manage themselves in a healthy way so they can go on to live happy and fulfilling lives.

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