The purpose of Health, Mental Health
and Safety Guidelines for Schools is to help those who influence
the health and safety of students and school staff while they are
in school, on school grounds, on their way to or from school, and
involved in school-sponsored activities. The guidelines recognize
that the primary mission of schools is to educate students. Schools
also have a responsibility for students health and safety
while they are at school. By addressing health, mental health, and
safety issues (including transportation and motor vehicle safety),
schools can improve students academic performance today and
contribute to their increased longevity and productivity long after
they leave school.
Health, mental health, and safety, as defined here, are inextricably
linked to student achievement. Poor nutrition, impaired vision or
hearing, dental pain, sleep deficiency, substance abuse, anxiety
about home life, anxiety about relations with peers, exposure to
violence, and any unaddressed symptom are examples of health and
safety issues associated with less than optimal achievement in school.
Sometimes the association between achievement and health, mental
health, and safety is obvious (e.g., an injury or illness that causes
a low school attendance rate). At other times the association between
student achievement and health, mental health, and safety is not
easily observed (e.g., when a teachers health or mental health
affects teaching and relationships
with students or when a students anxiety about a real or perceived
threat of violence affects his/her attention to class work). Complementary
of optimizing health and safety to improve student achievement is
the understanding that an educated populace is a beneficial factor
for the health
and safety of the population.
Healthy People 2010 is the prevention agenda for the nation.
It is designed to identify the most significant preventable threats
to health and to establish national goals to reduce these threats.
It should not be surprising that Healthy People 2010 includes
many school-specific health objectives. There are 20 Healthy
People 2010 objectives that are school-specific and these are
listed in Appendix A. Increasing the number of students who complete
high school is a Healthy People 2010 goal, as are increasing
the number of schools with sound environmental policies and reducing
school days missed as a result of asthma. The interwoven quality
of educational achievement with health, mental health, and safety
is one reason that the prevention, detection, and resolution of
health and safety problems require cooperative efforts of students,
their families, community agencies, and school personnel.