School Mental Health

, Volume 6, Issue 2, pp 84–98 | Cite as

The Impact of School Mental Health on Student and School-Level Academic Outcomes: Current Status of the Research and Future Directions

  • Shannon M. Suldo
  • Matthew J. Gormley
  • George J. DuPaul
  • Dawn Anderson-Butcher
Original Paper


This manuscript summarizes areas of school mental health (SMH) research relevant to the interplay between students’ academic and social–emotional outcomes. After advancing a multidimensional conceptualization of academic success at the levels of individual students and schools, we summarize observational and intervention studies that connect students’ mental health to their academic achievement, with acknowledgment of the bidirectional relationship. Then, current and future directions of SMH research are discussed, including (a) the impact of SMH health initiatives and services on schools’ achievement, (b) the need to address the mental health of historically neglected subgroups of students, and (c) interdisciplinary collaborations necessary to support enhanced outcomes. Based on the findings from these literature integrations, we conclude with recommendations and implications for research and practice.


Student success Impact of school mental health prevention and intervention Research directions 


  1. Adelman, H. S., & Taylor, L. (1999). Mental health in schools and system restructuring. Clinical Psychology Review, 19, 137–163. doi:10.1016/S0272-7358(98)00071-3.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on School Health. (2004). School-based mental health services. Pediatrics, 113, 1839–1845.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Anderson, E. R., & Mayes, L. C. (2010). Race/ethnicity and internalizing disorders in youth: A review. Clinical Psychology Review, 30, 338–348. doi:10.1016/j.cpr.2009.12.008.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Anderson-Butcher, D., Lawson, H. A., Bean, J., Flaspohler, P., Boone, B., & Kwiatkowski, A. (2008). Community collaboration to improve schools: Introducing a new model from Ohio. Children & Schools, 30, 161–172. doi:10.1093/cs/30.3.161.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Auger, R. W. (2004). The accuracy of teacher reports in the identification of middle school students with depressive symptomatology. Psychology in the Schools, 41, 379–389. doi:10.1002/pits.10164.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Ball, A., & Anderson-Butcher, D. (in press). Perceived student mental health needs, strengths in the student support system, and teacher stress. Children & Schools.Google Scholar
  7. Ball, A., Anderson-Butcher, D., Mellin, E. A., & Green, J. H. (2010). A cross-walk of professional competencies involved in expanded school mental health: An exploratory study. School Mental Health, 2, 114–124. doi:10.1007/s12310-010-9039-0.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Baskin, T. W., Slaten, C. D., Sorenson, C., Glover-Russell, J., & Merson, D. N. (2010). Does youth psychotherapy improve academically related outcomes? A meta-analysis. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 57, 290–296. doi:10.1037/a0019652.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Becker, K. D., Brandt, N. E., Shephan, S. H., & Chorpita, B. F. (2013). A review of educational outcomes in the children’s mental health treatment literature. Advances in School Mental Health Promotion, Advance online publication. doi:10.1080/1754730X.2013.851980.
  10. Bradshaw, C. P., Koth, K., Bevans, K. B., Ialongo, N., & Leaf, P. J. (2008). The impact of school-wide positive behavioral interventions and supports on the organizational health of elementary schools. School Psychology Quarterly, 23, 462–473. doi:10.1037/a0012883.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Burt, K. B., & Roisman, G. I. (2010). Competence and psychopathology: Cascade effects in the NICHD study of early child care and youth development. Development and Psychopathology, 22, 557–567. doi:10.1017/S0954579410000271.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Center for Mental Health in Schools. (2005). Screening mental health problems in schools. University of California, Los Angeles: Author. Retrieved July 24, 2013 from
  13. Chen, Z., & Kaplan, H. B. (2003). School failure in early adolescence and status attainment in middle adulthood: A longitudinal study. Sociology of Education, 76, 110–127.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Cook, C. L., Barry, C. L., & Busch, S. H. (2012). Racial/ethnic disparity trends in children’s mental health care access and expenditure from 2002 to 2007. Heath Services Research, 48, 129–149. doi:10.1111/j.1475-6773.2012.01439.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Cook, T. D., Murphy, R. F., & Hunt, H. D. (2000). Comer’s school development program in Chicago: A theory-based evaluation. American Educational Research Journal, 37, 535–597. doi:10.3102/00028312037002535.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Cummings, J. R., Ponce, N. A., & Mays, V. M. (2010). Comparing racial/ethnic differences in mental health service use among high-need subpopulations across clinical and school-based settings. Journal of Adolescent Health, 46, 603–606. doi:10.1016/j.jadohealth.2009.11.221.PubMedCentralPubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Defoe, I. N., Farrington, D. P., & Loeber, R. (2013). Disentangling the relationship between delinquency and hyperactivity, low achievement, depression, and low socioeconomic status: Analysis of repeated longitudinal data. Journal of Criminal Justice, 41, 100–107. doi:10.1016/j.crimjus.2012.12.002.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Derzon, J. H., Yu, P., Ellis, B., Xiong, S., Arroyo, C., Mannix, D., et al. (2012). A national evaluation of Safe Schools/Healthy Students Initiative: Outcomes and influences. Evaluation and Program Planning, 25, 293–302. doi:10.1016/j.evalprogplan.2011.11.005.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. DiPerna, J. C., Volpe, R. J., & Elliott, S. N. (2002). A model of academic enablers and elementary reading/language arts achievement. School Psychology Review, 31, 298–312.Google Scholar
  20. Doll, B., Spies, R., & Champion, A. (2012). Contributions of ecological school mental health services to students’ academic success. Journal of Educational & Psychological Consultation, 22, 44–61. doi:10.1080/10474412.2011.649642.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Dryfoos, J. (1994). Full-service schools: A revolution in health and social services for children, youth, and families. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.Google Scholar
  22. Duchesne, S., Vitaro, F. L., Larose, S., & Tremblay, R. E. (2008). Trajectories of anxiety during elementary-school years and the prediction of high school noncompletion. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 37, 1134–1146. doi:10.1007/s10964-007-9224-0.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Duchnowski, A. J., & Kutash, K. (2011). School reform and mental health services for students with emotional disturbances educated in urban schools. Education and Treatment of Children, 34, 323–346. doi:10.1353/etc. 2011.0020.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. DuPaul, G. J., Kern, L., Gormley, M. J., & Volpe, R. J. (2011). Early intervention for young children with ADHD: Academic outcomes for responders to behavioral treatment. School Mental Health, 3, 117–126. doi:10.1007/s12310-011-9053-x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Durlak, J. A., Weissberg, R. P., Dymnicki, A. B., Taylor, R. D., & Schellinger, K. B. (2011). The impact of enhancing students’ social and emotional learning: A meta-analysis of school-based universal interventions. Child Development, 82, 405–432. doi:10.1111/j.1467-8624.2010.01564.x.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Ellis, B., Alford, A., Yu, P., Xiong, S., Hill, G., Puckett, M., et al. (2012). Correlates of perceived effectiveness of the Safe Schools/Healthy Students Initiative. Evaluation and Program Planning, 35, 287–292. doi:10.1016/j.evalprogplan.2011.11.004.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Farahmand, F. K., Grant, K. E., Polo, A. J., Duffy, S. N., & Dubois, D. L. (2011). School-based mental health and behavioral programs for low-income, urban youth: A systematic and meta-analytic review. Clinical Psychology: Science and Practice, 18, 372–390. doi:10.1111/j.1468-2850.2011.01265.x.Google Scholar
  28. Fergusson, D. M., & Woodward, L. J. (2002). Mental health, educational, and social role outcomes of adolescents with depression. Archives of General Psychiatry, 59, 225–231. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.59.3.225.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Fleming, C. B., Haggerty, K. P., Catalano, R. F., Harachi, T. W., Mazza, J. J., & Gruman, D. H. (2005). Do social and behavioral characteristics targeted by preventive interventions predict standardized test scores and grades? Journal of School Health, 75, 342–349.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Forman, S. G., Shapiro, E. S., Codding, R. S., Gonzales, J. E., Reddy, L. A., Rosenfield, S. A., et al. (2013). Implementation science and school psychology. School Psychology Quarterly, 28, 77–100. doi:10.1037/spq0000019.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Greenberg, M. T., Domitrovich, C., & Bumbarger, B. (2000). Preventing mental disorders in school-age children: A review of the effectiveness of prevention programs. Retrieved from
  32. Greydanus, D., Patel, D., & Pratt, H. (2010). Suicide risk in adolescents with chronic illness: Implications for primary care and specialty pediatric practice: A review. Developmental Medicine and Child Neurology, 52, 1083–1087. doi:10.1111/j.1469-8749.2010.03771.x.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Guerra-Lopez, I., & Toker, S. (2012). An application of the impact evaluation process for designing a performance measurement and evaluation framework in K-12 environments. Evaluation and Program Planning, 35, 222–235. doi:10.1016/j.evalprogplan.2011.10.001.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Hagelskamp, C., Brackett, M. A., Rivers, S. E., & Salovey, P. (2013). Improving classroom quality with the ruler approach to social and emotional learning: Proximal and distal outcomes. American Journal of Community Psychology, 51, 530–543. doi:10.1007/s10464-013-9570-x.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Herman, K. C., Reinke, W. M., Parkin, J., Traylor, K. B., & Agarwal, G. (2009). Childhood depression: Rethinking the role of the school. Psychology in the Schools, 46, 433–446. doi:10.1002/pits.20388.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Hilsman, R., & Garber, J. (1995). A test of the cognitive diathesis-stress model of depression in children: Academic stressors, attributional style, perceived competence, and control. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 69, 370–380.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Hoagwood, K., & Johnson, J. (2003). School psychology: A public health framework I. From evidence-based practices to evidence-based policies. Journal of School Psychology, 41, 3–21. doi:10.1016/S0022-4405(02)00141-3.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Hoagwood, K. E., Olin, S. S., Kerker, B. D., Kratochwill, T. R., Crowe, M., & Saka, N. (2007). Empirically based school interventions targeted at academic and mental health functioning. Journal of Emotional and Behavioral Disorders, 15, 66–92.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Horner, R. H., Sugai, G., Smolkowski, K., Eber, L., Nakasato, J., Todd, A., et al. (2009). A randomized, wait-list controlled effectiveness trial assessing school-wide positive behavior support in elementary schools. Journal of Positive Behavior Interventions, 11, 133–144. doi:10.1177/1098300709332067.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Howell, A. J., Keyes, C. L. M., & Passmore, H. (2013). Flourishing among children and adolescents: Structure and correlates of positive mental health, and interventions for its enhancement. In C. Proctor & P. A. Linley (Eds.), Research, applications and interventions for children and adolescents: A positive psychology perspective (pp. 59–79). Berlin: Springer. doi:10.1007/978-94-007-6398-2_5.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Huey, S. J., & Polo, A. J. (2008). Evidence-based psychosocial treatments for ethnic minority youth. Journal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology, 37, 262–301. doi:10.1080/15374410701820174.PubMedCentralPubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Jones, S. M., Brown, J. L., & Aber, J. L. (2011). Two-year impacts of a universal school-based social-emotional and literacy intervention: An experiment in translational developmental research. Child Development, 82, 533–554. doi:10.1111/j.1467-8624.2010.01560.x.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Jones, S. M., Brown, J. L., Hoglund, W. L. G., & Aber, J. L. (2010). A school-randomized clinical trial of an integrated social-emotional learning and literacy intervention: Impacts after 1 school year. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 78, 829–842. doi:10.1037/a0021383.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Kosciw, J. G., Palmer, N. A., Kull, R. M., & Greytak, E. A. (2013). The effect of negative school climate on academic outcomes for LGBT youth and the role of in-school supports. Journal of School Violence, 12, 45–63. doi:10.1080/15388220.2012.732546.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Kutash, K., Duchnowski, A. J., & Green, A. L. (2011). School-based mental health programs for students who have emotional disturbances: Academic and social-emotional outcomes. School Mental Health, 3, 191–208. doi:10.1007/s12310-011-9062-9.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Masten, A. S., Roisman, G. I., Long, J. D., Burt, K. B., Obradović, J. R., Boelcke-Stennes, K., et al. (2005). Developmental cascades: Linking academic achievement and externalizing and internalizing symptoms over 20 years. Developmental Psychology, 41, 733–746. doi:10.1037/0012-1649.41.5.733.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Mellin, E. A., & Weist, M. (2011). Exploring school mental health collaboration in an urban community: A social capital perspective. School Mental Health, 3, 81–92. doi:10.1007/s12310-011-9049-6.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Merikangas, K. R., He, J., Burstein, M., Swanson, S. A., Avenevoli, S., Cui, L., et al. (2010). Lifetime prevalence of mental disorders in U.S. adolescents: Results from the National Comorbidity Survey Replication–Adolescent Supplement (NCS-A). Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 49, 980–989. doi:10.1016/j.jaac.2010.05.017.PubMedCentralPubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Merikangas, K. R., He, J., Burstein, M., Swendsen, J., Avenevoli, S., Case, B., et al. (2011). Service utilization for lifetime mental disorders in U.S. adolescents: Results of the NCS-A. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 50, 32–45. doi:10.1016/j.jaac.2010.10.006.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Moilanen, K. L., Shaw, D. S., & Maxwell, K. L. (2010). Developmental cascades: Externalizing, internalizing, and academic competence from middle childhood to early adolescence. Development and Psychopathology, 22(3), 635–653. doi:10.1017/S0954579410000337.PubMedCentralPubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Murphy, H. E. (2012). Improving the lives of students, gay and straight alike: Gay-straight alliances and the role of school psychologists. Psychology in the Schools, 49, 883–891. doi:10.1002/pits.21643.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Mychailyszyn, M. P., Brodman, D. M., Read, K. L., & Kendall, P. C. (2012). Cognitive-behavioral school-based interventions for anxious and depressed youth: A meta-analysis of outcomes. Clinical Psychology: Science and Practice, 19, 129–153. doi:10.1111/j.1468-2850.2012.01279.x.Google Scholar
  53. Obradovic, J., Burt, K. B., & Masten, A. S. (2010). Testing a dual cascade model linking competence and symptoms over 20 years from childhood to adulthood. Journal of Clinical Child & Adolescent Psychology, 39, 90–102. doi:10.1080/15374410903401120.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Payton, J., Weissberg, R. P., Durlak, J. A., Dymnicki, A. B., Taylor, R. D., Schellinger, K. B., & Pacham, M. (2008). The positive impact of social and emotional learning for kindergarten to eighth-grade students: Findings from three scientific reviews. Chicago, IL: CASEL. Retrieved from
  55. Pfiffner, L. J., Villodas, M., Kaiser, N., Rooney, M., & McBurnett, K. (2013). Educational outcomes of a collaborative school–home behavioral intervention for ADHD. School Psychology Quarterly, 28, 25–36. doi:10.1037/spq0000016.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Pinquart, M., & Shen, Y. (2011a). Behavior problems in children and adolescents with chronic physical illness: A meta-analysis. Journal of Pediatric Psychology, 36, 1003–1016. doi:10.1093/jpepsy/jsr042.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Pinquart, M., & Shen, Y. (2011b). Depressive symptoms in children and adolescents with chronic physical illness: An updated meta-analysis. Journal of Pediatric Psychology, 36, 375–384. doi:10.1093/jpepsy/jsq104.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Pinquart, M., & Teubert, D. (2012). Academic, physical, and social functioning of children and adolescents with chronic physical illness: A meta-analysis. Journal of Pediatric Psychology, 37, 376–389. doi:10.1093/jpepsy/jsr106.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Puddy, R. W., Roberts, M. C., Vernberg, E. M., & Hambrick, E. P. (2012). Service coordination and children’s functioning in a school-based intensive mental health program. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 21, 948–962. doi:10.1007/s10826-011-9554-0.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Robinson, J. P., & Espelage, D. L. (2011). Inequities in educational and psychological outcomes between LGBTQ and straight students in middle and high school. Educational Researcher, 40, 315–330. doi:10.3102/0013189X11422112.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Roeser, R. W., Eccles, J. S., & Sameroff, A. J. (2000). Schools as a context of early adolescents’ academic and social-emotional development: A summary of research findings. The Elementary School Journal, 100, 443–471.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Rones, M., & Hoagwood, K. (2000). School-based mental health services: A research review. Clinical Child and Family Psychology Review, 3, 223–241.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Ross, J. A., & Scott, G. (2012). Student achievement outcomes comprehensive school reform: A Canadian case study. Journal of Educational Research, 105, 123–133. doi:10.1080/00220671.2010.532835.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Russell, S. T., Seif, H., & Truong, N. L. (2001). School outcomes of sexual minority youth in the United States: Evidence from a national study. Journal of Adolescence, 24, 111–127. doi:10.1006/jado.2000.0365.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Sailor, W., Dunlap, G., Sugai, G., & Horner, R. (Eds.). (2009). Handbook of positive behavior support. New York: Springer.Google Scholar
  66. Schwartz, D., Gorman, A. H., Duong, M. T., & Nakamoto, J. (2008). Peer relationships and academic achievement as interacting predictors of depressive symptoms during middle childhood. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 117, 289–299. doi:10.1037/0021-843X.117.2.289.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Seligman, M. E. P., & Csikszentmihalyi, M. (2000). Positive psychology: An introduction. American Psychologist, 55, 5–14. doi:10.1037//0003-066X.55.1.5.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Simonsen, B., Eber, L., Black, A. C., Sugai, G., Lewandowski, H., Sims, B., et al. (2012). Illinois statewide positive behavioral interventions and supports: Evolution and impact on student outcomes across years. Journal of Positive Behavior Interventions, 14, 5–16. doi:10.1177/1098300711412601.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. Suldo, S. M., Shaunessy, E., Michalowski, J., & Shaffer, E. S. (2008). Coping strategies of high school students in an International Baccalaureate program. Psychology in the Schools, 45, 960–977. doi:10.1002/pits.20345.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  70. Suldo, S. M., Shaunessy, E., Thalji, A., Michalowski, J., & Shaffer, E. (2009). Sources of stress for students in high school college preparatory and general education programs: Group differences and associations with adjustment. Adolescence, 176, 925–948.Google Scholar
  71. Suldo, S. M., & Shaunessy-Dedrick, E. (2013). The psychosocial functioning of high school students in academically rigorous programs. Psychology in the Schools, 50, 823–843. doi:10.1002/pits.21708.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  72. Suldo, S. M., Thalji, A., & Ferron, J. (2011). Longitudinal academic outcomes predicted by early adolescents’ subjective well-being, psychopathology, and mental health status yielded from a dual-factor model. Journal of Positive Psychology, 6, 17–30. doi:10.1080/17439760.2010.536774.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  73. Sum, A., Khatiwada, I., & McLaughlin, J. (2009). The consequences of dropping out of high school: joblessness and jailing for high school dropouts and the high cost for taxpayers. Center for Labor Market Studies Publications. Retrieved from
  74. Sumi, W. C., Woodbridge, M. W., Javitz, H. S., Thornton, S. P., Wagner, M., Rouspil, K., et al. (2013). Assessing the effectiveness of First Step to Success: Are short-term results the first step to long-term behavioral improvements? Journal of Emotional and Behavioral Disorders, 21, 66–78. doi:10.1177/1063426611429571.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  75. Valdez, C. R., Lambert, S. F., & Ialongo, N. S. (2011). Identifying patterns of early risk for mental health and academic problems in adolescence: A longitudinal study of urban youth. Child Psychiatry and Human Development, 42, 521–538. doi:10.1007/s10578-011-0230-9.PubMedCentralPubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  76. Van der Lee, J., Mokkink, L. B., Grootenhuis, M. A., Heymans, H. S., & Offringa, M. (2007). Definitions and measurement of chronic health conditions in childhood: A systematic review. Journal of the American Medication Association, 29, 2741–2751.Google Scholar
  77. van Lier, P. A. C., Vitaro, F., Barker, E. D., Brendgen, M., Tremblay, R. E., & Boivin, M. (2012). Peer victimization, poor academic achievement, and the link between childhood externalizing and internalizing problems. Child Development, 83, 1775–1788. doi:10.1111/j.1467-8624.2012.01802.x.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  78. Vidair, H. B., Sauro, D., Blocher, J. B., Scudellari, L. A., & Hoagwood, K. E. (2014). Empirically supported school-based mental health programs targeting academic and mental health functioning. In H. M. Walker & F. M. Gresham (Eds.), Handbook of evidence-based practices for emotional and behavioral disorders: Applications in schools (pp. 15–53). New York: Guilford.Google Scholar
  79. Walker, H. M., Seeley, J. R., Small, J., Severson, H. H., Graham, B. A., Feil, E. G., et al. (2009). A randomized controlled trial of the First Step to Success early intervention: Demonstration of program efficacy outcomes in a diverse, urban school district. Journal of Emotional and Behavioral Disorders, 17, 197–212. doi:10.1177/1063426609341645.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  80. Welsh, J. A., Nix, R. L., Blair, C., Bierman, K. L., & Nelson, K. E. (2010). The development of cognitive skills and gains in academic school readiness for children from low-income families. Journal of Educational Psychology, 102, 43–53. doi:10.1037/a0016738.PubMedCentralPubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Shannon M. Suldo
    • 1
  • Matthew J. Gormley
    • 2
  • George J. DuPaul
    • 2
  • Dawn Anderson-Butcher
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Psychological and Social FoundationsUniversity of South FloridaTampaUSA
  2. 2.Department of Education and Human ServicesLehigh UniversityBethlehemUSA
  3. 3.College of Social WorkThe Ohio State UniversityColumbusUSA

Personalised recommendations