16% of schools have mechanisms in place to identify mental health cases

The study was commissioned to analyze 1,556 educational institutions in 31 departments of the country.

Photo: Jorge Londono – Gustavo Torrijos Zuluaga

How are schools across the country doing in promoting wellbeing and health in school? To answer this question, the Laboratory of Economics of Education (LEE) of Xaveriana, together with the director of Welbin Colombia, undertook the task of analyzing 1,556 educational institutions from 31 departments of the country. (Read: Latin America won’t meet education goals proposed in 2030 Agenda)

The results are presented over two years in the Welbin Index, which is a tool for assessing the level at which educational institutions meet the standards of well-being of their educational communities.

This assessment focuses on five areas which are: coexistence and inclusion; mental and emotional health; food and healthy living; sexuality and gender; and physical integrity and security. Luz Karime Abadía, co-director of LEE, explains that “getting an additional point in the Welbin index is associated with better academic performance, with 0.6 additional points in the total state test score, Saber 11″.

Daniel Tobon, director of Welbin Colombia, commented that 1,556 official and private schools from all over the country joined this year. “This number adds to the 2,288 schools that have already received analysis and recommendations to improve their school wellbeing practices since 2020,” he added.

The results show that in terms of coexistence and inclusion, 77% of schools have carried out communication activities to manage coexistence situations at school; 25% have trained their teachers in the last two years to prevent stigma and discrimination; 19% of schools have mechanisms to identify and refer cases of school violence; 85% make some reasonable adjustment to promote access to education; and 16% facilitate a visual screening for their students, which is an exam to analyze eye conditions.

Another of the indicators analyzed is mental and emotional health. The results show that schools meet 36% of school conditions for mental and emotional health; 16% of schools have mechanisms to identify and refer mental health cases; 33% of schools provide psychosocial support; 32% of teachers are trained in suicide prevention; and in the past two years, 40% of institutions have trained their teachers in social-emotional skills. (You can read: If you are a high school graduate and dream of studying in Morocco, read this)

In terms of social conditions, the index found that 38% of schools do not have permanent and free potable water for drinking and cooking; 85% have an aqueduct, while in rural areas only 55%. Average rated institutions have a functional bathroom for every 33 students; in formal schools, this ratio is one in every 47 students; and in private schools, one for every 14. “The Colombian technical norm indicates that there should be a maximum of one for every 25 students,” the study warns.

When it comes to food, the index highlights that 39% of schools have updated their curricula to promote healthy eating; and 43% of schools have guidelines to limit ultra-processed foods and sugary drinks.

Sex education was also another point that was responsible for the index analysis. It found that 77% of schools are taking action to promote sexual and reproductive rights; 15% provide information on access to contraceptives; 11% have trained their teachers on prevention of HIV and other STIs (sexually transmitted infections); 33% have trained their teachers in sexuality education; 19% have educated their teachers about teenage pregnancy prevention; and 30% supply menstrual health products.

The last point analyzed was security management in institutions. The index found that 72% of schools considered themselves ready to undertake disaster management; 19% have trained their teachers to prevent accidents and injuries; 12% reported being at risk from floods and landslides, 36% at risk from pests and vectors of infection; 29% provide first aid for accidents and injuries; and 43% reported the sale of psychoactive substances. (You may also be interested in: The project that seeks to transform mental health care in colleges and universities)

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