Mental illness both the cause and effect of school exclusion, study reveals

Mental illness may be both the “cause and effect” of poor behaviour and school exclusion, a major study has revealed.

The University of Exeter, who published the research, is now calling on official bodies to “act quickly and effectively to prevent exclusion and improve both educational and health outcomes in later life”.

Around 8,000 families were involved in the study, with each asked to comment on whether their children had been excluded from school up to the age of eight and between the ages of 15 and 16.

According to the paper, boys who entered education from primary school age were at a higher risk of exclusion than pupils who did not report any mental health issues. However, pupils who received “prompt assessment and intervention” were less likely to be excluded. Similar information for girls was not available.

Girls and boys, meanwhile, both experienced deteriorating levels of mental health after being excluded.

The report comes after the 2017 Mental Health of Children and Young People in England, which revealed that one in eight children between the age of five and 19 reported a mental health problem, while 7,900 pupils were excluded over the same period.

Commenting on the study, Professor of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Tamsin Ford said: “This research provides further evidence that poor mental health may be both cause and effect of exclusion from school.

“These children are often facing a wide range of challenges, and need both education and mental health practitioners to act quickly and effectively to prevent exclusion and improve both educational and health outcomes in later life.”

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