MONTGOMERY, Ala. – In August and September, the Alabama Department of Mental Health (ADMH) joins with the Alabama State Department of Education (ALSDE) to celebrate and help promote Attendance Awareness to bring awareness to chronic absenteeism and the impact it has on the children of Alabama and the United States. Chronic absence is when a student misses 10% or more school days for any reason. Chronic absence counts all absences – excused, unexcused and suspensions. In Alabama, more than 6,550,000 days of school were missed by students in 2018.
“We support attendance awareness efforts and the work of the Alabama State Department of Education to promote attendance at school. We are proud to partner with community mental health authorities, the ALSDE and local schools to bring mental health programs directly to students so that student challenges can be addressed and appropriately supported, helping them be more prepared to learn,” said Commissioner Lynn Beshear, ADMH.
Students with untreated mental issues experience lower educational outcomes than those who receive appropriate treatments and supports. They are more likely to experience difficulties in school, including higher rates of suspensions, expulsions, and dropouts, as well as lower grades and scores1.
ADMH has expanded the School Based Mental Health Services Program since its inception in 2010. The program provides mental health prevention, early intervention and treatment services through a deeper integration of mental health services between mental health centers and public schools to foster mental health care, academic, and developmental gains for children, youth and their families. Sixty school systems and 16 mental health centers participate in the program. Can we say how many students have been served?
Chronic absences can be significantly reduced when schools, the community, and students’ families work together to nurture habits of regular attendance and address hurdles that may prevent students from getting to school. It is a problem that can be solved when the whole community collaborates with families and schools. To learn more about Attendance Awareness Month and to help promote the month, please visit https://awareness.attendanceworks.org/.
The Alabama Department of Mental Health serves more than 200,000 Alabama citizens with mental illnesses, intellectual disabilities, and substance use disorders. The department strives to Serve, Empower, and offer support to create awareness while promoting the health and well-being of Alabamians. Visit www.mh.alabama.gov for more information.