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Press Releases

Child Mind Institute Children’s Mental Health Report Correlates Higher School Dropout and Incarceration Rates With Shortage of School-Based Mental Health Services

May 24, 2016

Current behavioral discipline policies have resulted in a surge in suspensions, feeding the school-to-prison pipeline, and putting minority children at higher risk.

New York, NY, May 24, 2016 – The Child Mind Institute released the 2016 Children’s Mental Health Report today, which states that the 17.1 million children in America struggling with mental health and learning disorders are at risk for poor outcomes in school and in life, including school dropout and incarceration. Outdated approaches to discipline, such as ‘zero tolerance’ and out-of-school suspension, are only making matters worse, especially for minority children.

“Tens of thousands of children miss out on the education they deserve and are set on a path towards unemployment, prison and an early death because of our collective failure to value and encourage mental health and social and emotional achievement at the same level as academic success,” said Child Mind Institute President Dr. Harold Koplewicz. “This has to change. Early intervention is vital.”

There has been a significant increase in suspensions during the past 40 years. Children with mental health and learning disorders, behavioral problems and minority children are disproportionally affected by these discipline policies, causing them to drop out of school at a much higher rate:

  • High school dropouts are 63 times more likely to be jailed than four-year college graduates.
  • More than two-thirds of state prison inmates have not completed high school.
  • 70% of youth involved in the juvenile justice system meet the criteria for a psychiatric diagnosis.

Early intervention in schools is the key to helping these children lead full, productive lives. Access to mental health care in school-based health centers leads to a tenfold increase in treatment for mental health or substance abuse, and expulsions drop by nearly half when classrooms have regular access to a psychiatrist or psychologist.

“Schools offer a solution,” Dr. Koplewicz said. “They are the most promising setting for early recognition of mental health problems in children and changing their lives in meaningful ways.”

About the 2016 Children’s Mental Health Report

The Child Mind Institute’s annual Children’s Mental Health Report brings together thought-provoking, incisive and practical information on child and adolescent mental health care, based on reliable studies and emerging research. Each year the Report takes on a new focus, from the prevalence of mental health disorders to their effects in school to the science of the developing brain. Our goal is to spark conversations from kitchen tables to the halls of Congress, putting the focus on understanding problems and promoting effective solutions.

The 2016 Children’s Mental Health Report is available for download at:

About the Child Mind Institute

The Child Mind Institute is an independent nonprofit dedicated to transforming the lives of children and families struggling with mental health and learning disorders. Our teams work every day to deliver the highest standards of care, advance the science of the developing brain, and empower parents, professionals and policymakers to support children when and where they need it most. Together with our supporters, we’re helping children reach their full potential in school and in life. We share all of our resources freely and do not accept any funding from the pharmaceutical industry. Learn more at

About Our National Partner


For six years, Hunter has been a strong and steadfast partner for the Child Mind Institute’s Speak Up for Kids campaign. Founded in 1856, Hunter is a progressive British heritage brand renowned for its iconic Original boot and holds two Royal Warrants of Appointment to HM The Queen and HRH The Duke of Edinburgh. The brand has a rich history of innovation and continues to be worn on the festival fields, the city streets, as well as challenging outdoor landscapes.

Speak Up for Kids partners include:

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