While student health is linked to educational success, as many as 60 per cent of youth do not contact a health care provider when worried about a health issue. Young people avoid going to a doctor for many reasons, including fear of social stigma, worry about bumping into someone they know, or lack of transportation.
Recognizing the challenges faced by students around the province in accessing primary care, four divisions of family practice have partnered with local health care stakeholders (often through Child and Youth Mental Health and Substance Use Local Action Teams), school administrators, and students to create accessible clinics in local high schools.
This team-based approach to care, incorporating family doctors, public health nurses, social workers, school staff, and family support workers is helping students better manage and prevent physical and mental health issues, and improve overall health outcomes for youth.
Read more about Division-organized school-based clinics:
- Barsby and Nanaimo District Secondary School Wellness Centres
- Northern Interior Rural: Nechako Valley Secondary School Clinic
- Shuswap North Okanagan: Sullivan Campus of Salmon Arm Secondary
- South Island: Belmont Secondary, Royal Bay Secondary, and Edward Milne Community School
The Wellness Centres Evaluation Framework Initiative
The Institute of Health System Transformation and Sustainability recently released a two-year evaluation report of John Barsby Wellness Centre in Nanaimo and other school-based wellness centres in BC. The report concludes that there is a clear rationale for providing youth with care through high school based wellness centres that incorporate a youth-friendly, easily accessible model of care that is relevant to their needs. Findings in the report include:
- Approximately one-third of students in each school attend the wellness centre in each school year, most often for reasons related to physical health, sexual health, or mental health.
- Wellness centres are serving an important need for support among students with real health and social challenges, many of whom appear to 'fly below the radar' of other supports and services.
- There is widespread satisfaction with the wellness centres:
- Students report high satisfaction with their experience of care.
- Wellness centre staff enjoy working with youth report immense job satisfaction.
- Educators appreciate having trained professionals available to students and recognize the contribution of improved health to improved attendance to academic performance.
- Service partners are enthusiastic about working in this multi-disciplinary holistic care environment.
- Stakeholder organization support remains high.
Click here to read the full report on school-based wellness centres in BC.