Children's mental health and the transition to school: systemic issues in Ontario
thesisposted on 22.05.2021, 12:24 by Ingrid McKhool
Early intervention in mental health is critical to school readiness and social functioning, and mental wellness is linked to student achievement and success through the life span. Children aged four to six entering school with unaddressed mental health issues may struggle academically and socially, charting a course for low academic achievement that compromises their life chances. Many children are not captured through the Ministry of Education’s labeling of exceptionalities or approach to inclusion. In addition, the current model lacks a systematic approach to monitoring the effectiveness of services. This study compiled descriptive statistics through a secondary analysis of previously collected community-based mental health services data in Ontario to better understand the needs of children four to six and the services provided to them before they enter school. Results were discussed in the context of a critical review of the literature related to mental health, early years and inclusion in school and community contexts. Recommendations include improved system measurement, development of a more age-focused community-based early intervention system and a reconceptualized practice of social inclusion to support children’s transition to school.