A new study published in the October 2013 Journal of Adolescent Health details the relationship between use of school-based health centers (SBHCs) in San Francisco and student success.
The study, conducted by ETR and the San Francisco Wellness Initiative in partnership with the University of California Berkeley and the University of Denver, compares students who participate in SBHCs and those who don’t and finds:
- Students who use any Wellness Services report statistically significant increases in school assets–even those who visit just one or two times.
- Students who visit their Wellness Center more frequently report higher assets.
- Students with the highest risk factors participate in services most frequently, report the highest school assets scores, and experience the strongest caring relationships with adults in the Wellness Centers.
According to ETR’s lead program evaluator and study co-author Dr. John Shields, the need for school-based services is high. “In SFUSD high schools in 2013, over a quarter of students reported symptoms of depression, and nearly one out of ten students reported attempting suicide. A significant proportion of students are also turning to alcohol and other drugs–about 12% reported binge drinking in the past month, and 30% reported smoking marijuana in their lifetime.”
According to SFUSD Superintendent Richard Carranza, “Though we’ve known that having Wellness Centers at schools makes a difference for youth, this is the strongest evidence we have to date of the positive impact our Wellness Centers have for San Francisco’s public high school students. The study also shows we are having the greatest impact on the very students who need the most support to succeed in school.”
As one high school student put it, “Whenever I come into the Wellness Center, I feel safe and calm in an environment where I know people care about me. It’s like a house and we are all family.” Another student put it this way, “I am relieved to finally be able to have a caring adult who I can talk to honestly and someone I can rely on for help.”