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0-08: Partnerships with community service providers
0-12: Engaging community stakeholders
7-03: Recognition and referral of students under stress
7-04: Suicide prevention strategies
8-03: Provision of wellness programs for staff
8-05: Employee assistance programs
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Bright Futures
Resources to promote healthy behaviors, reduce morbidity and mortality, develop partnerships between health professionals, families, and communities, and improve child health outcomes
Center for Mental Health in Schools.
Resources, technical assistance, and continuing education on topics related to mental health in schools, with a focus on barriers to learning and promotion of healthy development.
Center for School Mental Health Assistance
Supports schools and communities in the development of programs and provides leadership and technical assistance to advance effective interdisciplinary school-based mental health programs.
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4-06 - Mental health problems: capacity to identify, refer, manage

Have the capacity to identify students with, or at risk for, mental health problems, to refer them for assessment and interventions appropriate to their needs, and to monitor and manage their behavioral, mental health, and emotional needs at school.


Early identification of students with, or at risk for, transient or on-going mental disorders, followed by early intervention can mitigate the severity and duration of these problems and reduce personal, social, educational, and financial costs to the student and family and the educational and health systems. Up to three-quarters of U.S. children receiving professional care for a mental health problem obtained services through a school-based program.


Schools must be able to assess students for immediate risks they might face, have the capacity to stabilize immediate behavioral, mental health, and emotional situations, and protect all those involved in crisis situations. Identify school- and community-based services for students facing immediate risks as well as for those requiring intervention in the long-term. Students with behavioral, emotional, and other mental health needs that interfere with functioning may require a referral to special education or a modified school program designed to accommodate their needs.

Most schools sustain specialized programs and adequate expertise and staffing to meet students' needs by maintaining a staff of school-based counselors, psychologists, social workers, nurses, nurse-practitioners, and/or other professionals trained to deal directly with emotional, behavioral, and mental health issues and to assist educators and administrators with students. Many schools establish a crisis response team, a suicide prevention team, and individual and/or group counseling services to assist these students.

Being sensitive to beliefs and practices relevant to mental health and child development includes keeping families involved and informed of the assessment process, of referrals, and of all services provided to their children. Schools sometimes need to refer students and families to primary health care providers, to mental health professionals with experience in managing children and adolescents (including but not limited to those who can assess for the need to prescribe psychotropic medications), to substance abuse and alcohol treatment centers, and to social support agencies. Whenever referrals to community-based agencies or professionals are warranted, ensure that families and students are effectively connected to these resources and follow up to determine that services provided were appropriate and effective. Coordinate and integrate community-based interventions with school health, mental health, and educational services.

Some schools provide extensive mental health services by hiring school-based mental health professionals or arranging for community-based mental health professionals to provide services at school. Campus-based arrangements can improve families' access to professional services and make coordination of mental health services with students' educational programs more comprehensive, reliable, and continual.

Reassess students' needs at intervals to clarify changes in their nature and scope. Evaluate school assessment procedures and interventions for their validity, reliability and effectiveness.


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Elias MJ, Zins JE, Weissberg KS, et al. Promoting Social and Emotional Learning: Guidelines for Educators. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development; 1997.

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Jellinek M. ed. Bright futures in practice: mental health (2nd ed.. Arlington, VA: National Center for Education in Maternal and Child Health, 2002.

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