In August 2023, the Hechinger Report’s Rebecca Redelmeier reported findings from the University of North Carolina’s Neurosciences Hospital on how in-hospital schools open a road to recovery to address the student mental health crisis and foster school connectedness. Programs like UNC’s Hospital School have been linked to helping students recover both mentally and academically.
These spaces foster school connectedness, the sense of belonging in school care built between peers and teachers. The hospital schools are year-round and are a part of the district school system. Hospital school staff consult with students’ families about strategies for maintaining a sense of normalcy, while keeping the guidance counselors at their traditional schools in the loop as well.
School support in hospitals helps students’ mental health, easing the transition back to traditional school post-hospitalization. Redelmeier also reports on how hospitals in more rural and less-resourced areas tend to receive minimal school services. In-patient mental health hospitalizations soared by more than 120 percent between 2016 and 2022. In 2020, Sara Midura, a former teacher at a hospital school program, reflects how in northern Michigan, a city of fifteen thousand people, there are no hospital school programs. Midura emphasizes how students’ care is put at risk without a program to bridge schools and hospitals.
The discourse surrounding the rise of in-hospital school programs as a way for students to build school connectedness and receive psychiatric care is absent in the corporate media. Rather, the establishment press has largely focused on the burgeoning relationship between medical curricula and school programs. The Washington Post describes partnerships that will develop hands-on training in the medical profession.
There is an emphasis on work experience, whereas the Hechinger Report focuses on how students can exist in a space that acts as a bridge between the psychiatric hospital and their traditional school. The student mental health crises and national shortage of counselors and mental healthcare providers, amplified since the pandemic, are covered at length by sources such as the Post and the New York Times, but the solutions posed are not focused on in-hospital school efforts.
Instead, the corporate media reference how providers have turned to suicide prevention program partnerships, issuing emergency licences and other ways to accelerate the school-to-psychologist pipeline. As of November 2023, the in-hospital school services focusing on the students’ needs and path to reintegration out of the hospital have not been covered by the corporate media.
Source: Rebecca Redelmeier, “How In-Hospital Schools Support Youth in Mental Health Crises,” The Hechinger Report, August 31, 2023.
Student Researchers: Adehl Bavar, Ruby Bochiccio-Sipos, Osei Dixon, Ryan Hunt, and Rianna Jakson (University of Massachusetts Amherst)
Faculty Evaluators: Allison Butler and Jeewon Chon (University of Massachusetts Amherst)