Richard Buery on The Huffington Post: E.R. Visits: A Costly Band-Aid for Troubled Students
"The Department of Education and the Department of Health must allocate more money for these mental health services in our schools."
Last week, the New York Times profiled Gabriel, a young boy who has been unnecessarily sent to the emergency room for psychiatric evaluations on multiple occasions due to behavioral outbursts in school. With the right resources, these outbursts could and should have been handled in Gabriel's school. Every year, thousands of children are sent to the ER unnecessarily, when instead they could be cared for and learning in school.
As many parents and students can attest, disruptive behaviors are a distraction to the entire class. The lesson is interrupted; students and teachers become unfocused and tense. Faced with a shortage of resources, educators are increasingly calling 911 when children act out, resulting not only in costly emergency room visits, but a failure to treat the underlying behavioral disorder.
And it's the wrong response.
Less than 3 percent of students sent to the emergency room are admitted into a hospital. Most are sent home and told to return to school the next day. Instead of receiving any sort of treatment for the root problem, the student misses a day of school. Often, parents are required to miss work, losing income and imperiling their jobs.