Subject: National Center for School Mental Health newsletter - Oct2018

NCSMH Newsletter
October 2018
Our National Center for School Mental Health team wishes students, families, and school teams a wonderful start to the 2018-2019 school year! This edition of our newsletter highlights resources and research to support a positive start to the school year, in addition to a featured section on work across the nation to promote school safety via comprehensive school mental health systems.
Register now for the 2018 Annual Conference on Advancing School Mental Health!
The 2018 Annual Conference on Advancing School Mental Health will be held October 11-13, 2018 in Las Vegas, Nevada at the Red Rock Casino, Resort, and Spa. The theme of the conference is School Mental Health - A Sure Bet for Student Success! 

Please visit our website for more details
The NCSMH, in partnership with the School-Based Health Alliance, received a five-year award to lead the school-based health services quality improvement and sustainability initiative! Follow the link above to learn more about this exciting work.
Free Professional Development Opportunity for School-Based Mental/Behavioral Health Providers
The University of Washington's School Mental Health Assessment, Research, and Training (SMART) Center is excited to offer school-based mental and behavioral health providers the opportunity to participate in a professional development project – BOLT (Brief Online Training for Measurement-Based Care) – this fall. BOLT is open to any mental/behavioral health provider who routinely delivers individual-level psychotherapy interventions and spends ≥50% of their time providing services in schools. Providers will complete online surveys and be randomly assigned to participate in either the "BOLT" (training and post-training consultation package with ongoing assessments) or "no-BOLT" (ongoing assessments only) conditions. Time commitments and incentives (between $300-$500 and a certificate to document continuing education credits) vary depending on condition.

If you are interested in participating in the BOLT project, please visit, or contact the BOLT team at by October 3, 2018.

NCTSN Breakthrough Series Collaborative for Supporting Trauma-Informed Schools

The National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN) Breakthrough Series Collaborative (BSC) for Supporting Trauma-Informed Schools to Keep Students in the Classroom is a unique opportunity to bring together expertise from the NCTSN using an established implementation and quality improvement methodology to spread and sustain evidence-based practices. Over the course of this eighteen-month initiative, schools and districts will increase time that students spend in the classroom while also positively impacting students’ engagement in learning, student well-being, school climate, school administrators, teachers, and support staff, families, and communities.
Applications to join are due October 12th. Please contact NCTSN at for more information.
School Mental Health Quality Improvement Spotlight:
Wisconsin School Mental Health Initiative

The Federal Commission on School Safety recently visited Adams-Friendship School District in Adams, Wisconsin to speak with district and state-level officials on the positive impact that Wisconsin’s School Mental Health Initiative has had on districts across the state. U.S Secretary’s Betsy DeVos (US Department of Ed) and Alex Azar (Department of Health and Human Services) were among the delegation who toured the school and spoke with district staff, students, parents, and other important community members about programs and services at Adams-Friendship that support positive school climate, health and safety in their school. Azar acknowledged the state of Wisconsin for taking the lead on integrating mental health services into schools and for their Wisconsin School Mental Health Framework, noting that HHS is interested in extending “sophisticated, comprehensive services” like Wisconsin’s into more schools and communities, especially rural communities such as Adams. Read the entire article by here.

Wisconsin is one of 12 states (Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Indiana, North Carolina, New Hampshire, New York City, Massachusetts, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, Washington and Wisconsin) in the National Coalition for the State Advancement of School Mental Health driving statewide adoption of the National School Mental Health Performance Measures housed on
The SHAPE System This National Coalition is hosted by the NCSMH as a part of the School Health Services National Quality Initiative.

For more information about school mental health in Wisconsin, visit or

Do you know a school mental health leader or team that we should feature in our School Mental Health Quality Improvement Spotlight? Send us your suggestions at


Comprehensive school mental health systems are critical to school safety. There is an abundance of evidence that schools with positive school climate and integrated social emotional learning are more likely than comparison schools to achieve higher standards of school safety, including less bullying (verbal, physical, cyber), less student isolation, more positive peer and teacher-student relationships, and less weapon threat and use on school campuses. Although the vast majority of students with mental illness are not violent (and are more likely than their peers to be victims of violence), establishing systems for early identification and mental health treatment for students with mental health challenges can protect students who may be vulnerable to disconnection, isolation, loss of social status, self-harm, retaliation, and aggressive behavior, all of which are predictive of future violence.

Many states across the country have passed legislation and are coordinating with districts, schools, and communities to develop and enhance policies to improve mental health services and supports within the school setting. These include strengthening mental health promotion and intervention for students, promoting trauma-responsive approaches to discipline and services, and promoting student wellness and social emotional competence. Below are example legislation and resources related to school safety.

School Safety Policy

National Institute of Justice, States’ Roles in Keeping School Safe: Opportunities and Challenges for State School Safety Centers and Other Actors
The National Institute of Justice (NIJ) assembled representatives from 20 states for a meeting on state school safety issues in Santa Fe, New Mexico. The purpose of the meeting was to better understand the role of state school safety representatives and learn about their priorities and the challenges they face in doing this work. NIJ is using this information to help shape the activities of the Comprehensive School Safety Initiative (CSSI) — a research-focused initiative with the goal of producing practical knowledge on a wide range of school safety topics in K-12 public and charter schools.

The Maryland Safe to Learn Act of 2018
The Maryland Safe to Learn Act of 2018 restructures the governance system for overseeing school safety policies and grants, calls for staffing guidelines regarding adequate law enforcement coverage at all schools, and calls for an expanded role of local school systems in coordinating students’ mental health services.

New Hampshire: School Safety Preparedness Task Force (2018)
This report by the New Hampshire School Safety Preparedness Task Force provides agreed upon recommendations to New Hampshire’s state and local leaders, school administrators and staff, students, parents, and first responders, on enhancing school safety while fostering growth and an atmosphere that is conducive to the educational, emotional, and physical well-being of staff and students.

Carrying Firearms in K-12 Schools: A Policy Snapshot
This resource provides interactive information about school safety state legislation around who can and cannot carry firearms on school grounds, school safety officers, requiring or providing funding for emergency drills and school safety plans, funding for structural or technology-related safety measures, and expanding mental health services in schools.

School Safety Resources

The Framework for Safe and Successful Schools outlines an approach for improving school safety and increasing access to mental health supports for children and youth. The framework offers policy recommendations to support effective school safety and best practices for creating safe and successful schools. This framework reflects a joint statement from American School Counselor Association, National Association of School Psychologists, School Social Work Association of America, National Association of School Resource Officers, National Association of Elementary School Principals and National Association of Secondary School Principals.

Framework for Safe & Successful Schools Advocacy Roadmap
This advocacy roadmap contains a set of resources to help individuals and state associations advocate for recommended policies and practices to improve school safety.

Enhancing School Safety Using a Threat Assessment Model: An Operational Guide for Preventing Targeted School Violence
This operational guide was developed to provide fundamental direction on how to prevent incidents of targeted school violence, that is, when a student specifically selects a school or a member of the school community for harm. The content in this guide is based on information developed by the U.S. Secret Service, Protective Intelligence and Assessment Division, National Threat Assessment Center (NTAC).

National Education Association’s School Crisis Guide
This guide presents resources, tools, recommendations, and evidence-based practices for incorporating best practices into school crisis plans. It is organized into four sections: Prevent, Prepare, Respond, and Recover. Prevent addresses what schools and districts can do to reduce or eliminate risk to life and property; Prepare focuses on the process of planning for the worst-case scenario; Respond is devoted to the steps to take during a crisis; and Recover deals with how to restore the learning and teaching environment after a crisis.

The Safe Schools/Health Students (SS/HS) Framework tool provides planning assistance for comprehensive mental health promotion and youth violence prevention. This framework integrates the SS/HS elements and guiding principles with strategic approaches to work collaboratively at state and community levels.

The SHAPE System is a free, interactive, online system designed to help schools, districts and states assess their school mental health systems, identify gaps, and engage in strategic planning for quality improvement and sustainability.

Schools and school districts can use SHAPE to:
• Document their service array and multi-tiered services and supports;

• Advance a data-driven mental health team process including access to free customized reports and strategic team planning resources (access a sample school quality assessment report here);

• Access targeted resources to help advance school mental health quality and sustainability;

• Achieve SHAPE Recognition to increase opportunities for federal, state and local grant funding.

Other SHAPE features include:
• The Screening and Assessment Library allows users to search instruments appropriate for use in school mental health by student age, language, cost, and other key features. 

• The Trauma Responsive Schools Implementation Assessment (TRS-IA) is an evidence-informed self-assessment that can be completed by schools or districts in under 20 minutes to identify areas of strength and need in their trauma responsive programming and policies.

SHAPE and School Safety
Many states, school districts and schools are using The SHAPE System to assess their comprehensive school mental health system (CSMHS) strengths and gaps and use the customized reports and strategic action planning guides and resources to improve their CSMHS and advance school safety. The School Mental Health Profile on The SHAPE System allows schools and districts to map their current school mental health structure and operations and receive a free customized report. Click here for a sample School Mental Health Profile Report

Back-to-School Transitions: Tips for Parents
The National Association of School Psychologists released a brief guide for parents and caregivers to help transition children and families back to the school year. Tips are for: before the school year begins, during the first week of school, choosing extracurriculars with children, and helping children cope with anxiety and problems around starting school. Additional resources for families can also be found through this page.

Creating Conditions for Meaningful Family Engagement from Pre-K to High School
As the school year begins, it is important for students, parents, and educators to actively prepare for transitions into the new year. The U.S. Department of Education compiled a list of resources for starting the school year on a positive note.

Separated Children Resources
As a follow up to resources shared in July’s newsletter about family separation and undocumented immigrant and refugee children, additional comprehensive resources have been created by the Alliance for the Advancement of Infant Mental Health from the University of Michigan’s School of Social Work. Resources are provided for alternate caregivers, agencies, and schools to support children in understanding what has happened to them and how to cope with possible traumatic stress.

Secondary Traumatic Stress: A Fact Sheet for Child-Serving Professionals
The National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN) has created a resource guide on secondary traumatic stress for professionals who may be exposed to stories of youths’ and families’ first-hand exposure to trauma. The guide, "Secondary Traumatic Stress: A Fact Sheet for Child-Serving Professionals", details ways to identify secondary traumatic stress, as well as prevention and intervention strategies for professionals. 

Youth Risk Behavior Survey: Data summary and trends report 2007-2017
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Division of Adolescent and School Health (DASH) recently released the report, Youth Risk Behavior Survey: Data summary and trends 2007-2017. The National Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) provides the most recent surveillance data on health behaviors and experiences among high school students across the country. It reports on risks that contribute to the leading causes of death and disability among youth and young adults. In this current report, DASH uses YRBS data to focus on four priority focus areas: Sexual Behavior, High-Risk Substance Use, Violence Victimization, and Mental Health and Suicide. This report presents the 2017 data by sex, by race/ethnicity, and for sexual minority youth. It also examines linear YRBS trends for each focus area from 2007-2017.

The Annie E. Casey Foundation recently released the 2018 KIDS COUNT® Data Book. The KIDS COUNT® Data Book is an annual comprehensive report produced by the Annie E. Casey Foundation based on data from the KIDS COUNT Data Center, an online resource that provides data on child well-being over time from national and state organizations. The KIDS COUNT Data Center houses numerous key child and family well-being indicators and data points at the national and local levels. The 2018 KIDS COUNT® Data Book features a comprehensive index of child well-being and includes a national profile and state-level rankings across four content domains: (1) Economic Well-Being, (2) Education, (3) Health, and (4) Family and Community. 

The Effectiveness of School-Based Mental Health Services for Elementary-Aged Children: A Meta-Analysis
Sanchez, A., Cornacchio, D., Poznanski, B., Golik, A., Chou, T., & Corner, J.
Journal: Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry
Year: 2018
Objective: Given problems and disparities in the use of community-based mental health services for youth, school personnel have assumed frontline mental health service roles. To date, most research on school-based services has evaluated analog educational contexts with services implemented by highly trained study staff, and little is known about the effectiveness of school-based mental health services when implemented by school professionals.

Method: Random-effects meta-analytic procedures were used to synthesize effects of school-based mental health services for elementary school-age children delivered by school personnel and potential moderators of treatment response. Forty-three controlled trials evaluating 49,941 elementary school-age children met the selection criteria (mean grade 2.86, 60.3% boys).

Results: Overall, school-based services demonstrated a small-to-medium effect (Hedges g = 0.39) in decreasing mental health problems, with the largest effects found for targeted intervention (Hedges g = 0.76), followed by selective prevention (Hedges g = 0.67), compared with universal prevention (Hedges g = 0.29). Mental health services integrated into students’ academic instruction (Hedges g = 0.59), those targeting externalizing problems (Hedges g = 0.50), those incorporating contingency management (Hedges g = 0.57), and those implemented multiple times per week (Hedges g = 0.50) showed particularly strong effects.

Conclusion: Considering serious barriers precluding youth from accessing necessary mental health care, the present meta-analysis suggests child psychiatrists and other mental health professionals are wise to recognize the important role that school personnel, who are naturally in children’s lives, can play in decreasing child mental health problems.

Counseling, Psychological, and Social Services Staffing: Policies in U.S. School Districts
Brenner, N. & Demissie, Z.
Journal: American Journal of Preventive Medicine
Year: 2018
Introduction: Schools are in a unique position to meet the mental and behavioral health needs of children and adolescents because approximately 95% of young people aged 7–17 years attend school. Little is known, however, about policies related to counseling, psychological, and social services staffing in school districts. This study analyzed the prevalence of such policies in public school districts in the U.S.

Methods: Data from four cycles (2000, 2006, 2012, and 2016) of the School Health Policies and Practices Study, a national survey periodically conducted to assess policies and practices for ten components of school health, were analyzed in 2017. The survey collected data related to counseling, psychological, and social services among nationally representative samples of school districts using online or mailed questionnaires. Sampled districts identified respondents responsible for or most knowledgeable about the content of each questionnaire.

Results: The percentage of districts with a district-level counseling, psychological, and social services coordinator increased significantly from 62.6% in 2000 to 79.5% in 2016. In 2016, 56.3% of districts required each school to have someone to coordinate counseling, psychological, and social services at the school. Fewer districts required schools at each level to have a specified ratio of counselors to students (16.2% for elementary schools, 16.8% for middle schools, and 19.8% for high schools), and the percentage of districts with these requirements has decreased significantly since 2012.

Conclusions: Increases in the prevalence of district-level staffing policies could help increase the quantity and quality of counseling, psychological, and social services staff in schools nationwide, which in turn could improve mental and behavioral health outcomes for students.

The County Schools Mental Health Coalition: A Model for Community-Level Impact
Authors: Reinke, W., Thompson, A., Herman, K., Holmes, S., Owens, S., Cohen, D., Tanner-Jones, L., Henry, L., Green, A., & Copeland, C.
Journal: School Mental Health
Year: 2018
This paper describes a school-based mental health model for identifying, intervening, and referring students who are at risk for, or are exhibiting, mental health problems. This paper describes the County Schools Mental Health Coalition as a model for improving mental health outcomes for youth. The County Schools Mental Health Coalition, referred to here as the Coalition, is a multidisciplinary collaborative among six independent school districts and private schools residing in one county, and school psychology and social work faculty researchers from the local university. The Coalition was formed to overcome several barriers to children and youth receiving mental health supports. The barriers include lack of systems to adequately identify students early before mental health issues become severe, and lack of provision or access to evidence-based practices and interventions (EBPs) to ameliorate concerns or promote positive youth development. The manuscript describes how the Coalition has sought to overcome the barriers to support youth in county schools grades K to 12 through the creation of a tiered comprehensive system of early identification, prevention, and implementation of EBPs. The process and procedures utilized within this comprehensive data-based model are detailed, including how universal screening data are used at the county, school district, school, grade level, and individual student levels. In addition, case examples of universal, selective, and indicated interventions within this model are provided. Implications for research, practice, and policy will be discussed.

Enhancing the Relevance and Effectiveness of a Youth Gambling Prevention Program for Urban, Minority Youth: A Pilot Study of Maryland Smart Choices
Authors: Parham, B., Robertson, C., Lever, N., Palmer, T., Lee, P., Willis, K., & Prout, J.
Journal: Journal of Gambling Studies
Year: 2018
Abstract/Summary: Youth with problem gambling behaviors are susceptible to serious academic, behavioral, and mental health consequences including school failure, criminal involvement, and depression. Coupled with increased exposure to gambling formats, issues related to youth gambling have been deemed a serious public health issue requiring increased prevention efforts. However, the literature is limited in terms of evidence-based gambling prevention programs warranting the development of The Maryland Smart Choices Program (MD-Smart Choices), a gambling prevention program for middle and high school youth.
This 3-session, 45-min program was developed for implementation in Baltimore City Public Schools, an urban and predominately African American district with specific aims to engage students, encourage positive behavior, and facilitate learning related to gambling disorder. Pre–post program participation assessments were collected from 72 students across 5 different schools. Results yielded significant increases in student awareness and knowledge following participation in MD-Smart Choices. Focus group data collected from program facilitators suggested high student engagement and participation, program feasibility, and ease of implementation. Study implications and future directions are discussed.

Center for Disease Control and Prevention Rural Mental Health Policy Brief
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a policy brief on providing access to mental health services for children in rural areas, which provides policy makers with an overview of barriers to care in rural populations. The policy brief provides several avenues for policy makers to take to increase children’s access to care in rural areas such as telemedicine, school mental health centers, 
and integrating primary and behavioral healthcare.

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