Association of School Engagement, Academic Difficulties and School Avoidance with Psychological Difficulties Among Adolescents Admitted to a Psychiatric Inpatient Unit

Abstract

Mental illness is a pressing public health concern, particularly when the onset is during childhood or adolescence. Many youth admitted to hospital-based psychiatric care experience school-related difficulties. The purpose of this report was to explore the associations of academic difficulties, school avoidance and school engagement to total psychological difficulties and emotional problems. Youth completed surveys that included standardized measures of school-related factors and the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire while in hospital. Psychiatrists provided the primary diagnosis and diagnosis most responsible for the current admission. In total, 161 patients participated in this study (mean age 15 years, SD 1.4; 75% female). All three school-related variables were significantly associated with emotional problems; however, only school avoidance and academic difficulties were associated with total difficulties. School-related concerns were significantly associated with the severity of mental health symptoms. Patients may benefit from attention to school-related difficulties before discharge from psychiatric care that continues beyond school reintegration.

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Acknowledgements

The authors are indebted to the patients who participated in this study and the staff who facilitated this study.

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Correspondence to Michèle Preyde.

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All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards. Research Ethics Clearance was provided by Grand River Hospital and the University of Guelph.

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Ogilvie, S., Head, S., Parekh, S. et al. Association of School Engagement, Academic Difficulties and School Avoidance with Psychological Difficulties Among Adolescents Admitted to a Psychiatric Inpatient Unit. Child Adolesc Soc Work J 36, 419–427 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10560-018-0570-4

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Keywords

  • Psychiatric illness
  • School avoidance
  • Academic difficulty
  • School engagement