Integrating Children with Psychiatric Disorders in the Classroom: A Systematic Review


Background: The school setting may be the optimal context for early screening of and intervention on child mental health problems, because of its large reach and intertwinement with various participants (child, teacher, parent, other community services). But this setting also exposes children to the risk of stigma, peer rejection and social exclusion. This systematic literature review investigates the efficacy of mental health interventions addressed to children and adolescents in school settings, and it evaluates which programs explicitly take into account social inclusion indicators. Method: Only randomized controlled trials conducted on clinical populations of students and carried out in school settings were selected: 27 studies overall. Most studies applied group Cognitive Behavioural Therapy or Interpersonal Psychotherapy. Results: Findings were suggestive of the effectiveness of school-based intervention programs in reducing symptoms of most mental disorders. Some evidence was found about the idea that effective studies on clinical populations may promote the social inclusion of children with an ongoing mental disorder and avoid the risk of being highly stigmatized.Conclusion: School programs are still needed that implement standardized models with verifiable and evidence-based practices involving the whole school community.

Keywords: Educational context, mental health, school.