February is School-Based Health Center Awareness Month, and we couldn’t let the month pass without taking a moment to recognize how beneficial school-based health centers really are.
School-based health centers (SBHCs) are medical health centers located inside schools, and they have numerous benefits for our young people and communities. Over 387 schools in NYC have one. The Mount Sinai Adolescent Health Center runs 6 SBHCs that serve a total of 23 high schools and middle schools. Here are 5 reasons we love them.
1. They meet young people where they are—literally!
For teens, making and going to medical appointments can be difficult. Finding a convenient doctor’s office, figuring out transportation, and navigating not only their own hectic schedule but also their parent’s or caregiver’s can be a significant barrier to getting the health care they need. SBHCs help solve these issues by literally meeting teens where they are—namely, at school.
2. Care is provided at no cost.
While SBHCs do bill Medicaid or private insurance when it’s provided, they never bill patients. All care is provided at no cost to students, regardless of insurance or immigration status.
3. School-based health centers reduce school absences and may improve school performance.
Students with unaddressed health needs may have a more difficult time in school. The CDC found that SBHCs were associated with almost a 30% decrease in high school non-completion rates, and some studies also show links between SBHCs and improved grade point average.
4. School-based health centers lower the chance of an emergency department or hospital visit.
SBHCs are associated with significant reductions in emergency room visits and hospitalizations. This is great for our families and communities—hospitalizations and ER trips can be extremely disruptive, upsetting, expensive, and even traumatizing.
5. School-based health centers increase access to sensitive services, like mental health care and sexual and reproductive health care.
Accessing stigmatized care like therapy, birth control, and sexually transmitted infection (STI) testing and treatment can be especially difficult for young people. SBHCs make these services easy to access confidentially for students.
Learn more about the Mount Sinai Adolescent Health Center’s School-Based Health Centers.
The Mount Sinai Adolescent Health Center is located in New York City. It provides comprehensive, confidential, judgment free health care to over 12,000 young people every year—all at no cost to patients. This column is not intended to provide medical advice, professional diagnosis, opinion, treatment or services to you or to any other individual, only general information for education purposes only.