Subject: NCSMH Newsletter - February 2019

NCSMH Newsletter
-February 2019-

The National Center for School Mental Health team wishes you a safe and healthy winter season!
In this edition, you can find...
  • Information on the 2019 Annual Conference on Advancing School Mental Health
  • The School Mental Health Quality Improvement Spotlight
  • Findings from the Federal Commission on School Safety final report
  • Resources, Reports, and Journal Articles
  • Funding Opportunities
  • Policy Announcements
The 2019 Annual Conference on Advancing School Mental Health has been announced for November 7-9 in Austin, TX!
Click on the links to our website and the request for proposals to learn more about the conference and to submit a proposal. For more information, contact Sylvia McCree-Huntley at or 410-706-0981. We hope to see you there! #ASMH2019
School Mental Health Quality Improvement Spotlight: 
Connecticut Trauma-Informed School Mental Health Task Force

In Connecticut, a 2013 mandate to the Department of Children and Families (DCF) to create a comprehensive statewide children’s behavioral health plan is now being leveraged to support statewide capacity development for high quality school mental health. The Connecticut Children’s Behavioral Health Plan (Public Act 13-178) was developed in the wake of the Newtown tragedy to promote the well-being of all Connecticut’s children through prevention, early detection and access to responsive and effective services. Extensive input from families, providers, and other stakeholders through community conversations and other strategies has informed the development and implementation of this plan which involves twelve state agency partners. One workgroup of this plan is the Trauma-informed School Mental Health Task Force which promotes a comprehensive framework for statewide trauma-informed behavioral health services and school and community supports. This workgroup developed a trauma-informed dictionary to support a common language in statewide capacity development and implementation efforts. The Child Health and Development Institute of Connecticut has worked with DCF, the State Department of Education, and other partners to disseminate a number of other current products and coordinated activities to support statewide school mental health quality (e.g., Healthy Students and Thriving Schools IMPACT Report, recent statewide expansion of SHAPE, dissemination of CBITS/Bounce Back, MTSS document, School-Based Diversion Initiative Toolkit), many of which have been informed or supported by the collaborative partnerships and momentum generated by the Connecticut Children’s Behavioral Health Plan.

For more information about school mental health in Connecticut, visit:

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

51st Banff International Conference on Behavioural Science
School Mental Health: Equipping Schools and Communities to Support Student Mental Health
: March 17-20, 2019.
Join us for an intensive school mental health learning and networking experience in a truly awe-inspiring setting! The 51st annual Banff International Conference on Behavioural Science will highlight both the challenges and opportunities of school mental health, with an emphasis on identifying practical implications for mental health professionals, educators and administrators, and researchers. Leading experts will provide up-to-date research findings in plenary addresses. In addition, workshops will emphasize skill development and specific strategies from a range of evidence-based programs and practices. The conference is geared towards professionals who are planning, implementing, and evaluating mental health services for students in elementary and secondary schools, as well as community partners who support this work.

The Federal Commission on School Safety Report provides best practices and policy recommendations for improving safety in schools across the country. The commission conducted field visits, listening sessions, and meetings with state and local policymakers, administrators, principals and teachers, law enforcement and healthcare professionals, students and their families. The report is divided into sections on preventing school violence, protecting students and teachers and mitigating the effects of violence, and responding to and recovering from attacks. 

The authors recommend developing resources and best practices for improving school climate and learning outcomes for schools and school districts. Recommendations for improvement include increasing character education and creation of a positive school climate using frameworks such as Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports and the social emotional learning curriculum developed by Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL). The report acknowledges that schools have the potential to play a key role in preventing youth mental, emotional, and behavioral difficulties, identifying and supporting students with mental health problems, and reducing youth violence.

The report found that there was a lack of school-based mental health services, with up to 79% of youth having unmet mental health needs, and recommended improving access to school-based mental health, including through the use of telepsychiatry, as an important aspect for prevention. 

Furthermore, the report states that comprehensive school-based mental health systems (CSMHS) are effective in addressing the mental health needs of youth and recommends that the federal government should provide information on available financing options for CSMHS. Other recommendations include addressing childhood trauma, building mental health literacy, addressing cyberbullying (the report highlights innovative approaches used across the nation), using an integrated healthcare model, and workforce development to address the behavioral health workforce shortages. 

As students, families, and school staff begin 2019, resources from the National Association of School Psychologists may be helpful in promoting wellness for all children.

Resources to Help Address Youth Substance Use
The Health and Human Services Office of Adolescent Health, in collaboration with Dr. Sarah Bagley of the CATALYST Clinic at the Boston Medical Center, created a Think, Act, Grow (TAG) Talk titled “Adolescent Substance Use, Addiction, and Treatment.” Additionally, the Federal Resources for Rural Communities to Address Substance Use Disorder and Opioid Misuse developed a resource guide for addressing the use of substances in rural communities, with youth-specific information beginning on page 136. Click here for more information.

The National Child Traumatic Stress Network created an infographic about the relationship between bullying and trauma, as well as how being bullied can lead to the development of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Sesame Street in Communities partnered with experts on family homelessness to develop a comprehensive bilingual resource for families experiencing homelessness and those providing care.The resource includes books, videos, activities, and articles tailored to various ages. Sesame Street has also produced several resources developed by experts on other topics, including traumatic experiences, coping with incarceration, and resilience.

School Climate Improvement Online Modules
The National Center on Safe Supportive Learning Environments developed modules as part of their School Climate Improvement Resource Package to help school-based staff and providers implement, evaluate, and adapt evidence-based practices to improve school climate. Topics of modules include engaging staff, students, and families in improving school climate, integrating different data sources to better understand school climate, and selecting evidence-based interventions to make improvements.

Student Safety & Wellness
In the wake of 2018 school shootings, the new issue of NASBE’s State Education Standard explores the multitude of issues that impact student safety and wellness, like students’ physical and emotional wellbeing and the quality of their learning environments. Authors make recommendations to policymakers for how to move forward to advance student safety and wellness.

The Role of Technology in Improving K-12 School Safety
This report from the RAND Corporation focuses on school safety technologies as one among many approaches to prevent and respond to school violence. The report includes existing research on school violence, categorizes school safety technologies, discusses the use of innovative technologies used in six case studies, and summarizes experts’ views on school safety technologies. Findings from this report indicate that some of the most pressing safety needs that technology could address relate to (1) enabling two-way communication between teachers and emergency responders; (2) “all-in-one” applications that would integrate currently fragmented and outdated school safety policies, procedures, and training for school staff and parents; (3) advances in social media monitoring; and (4) improved tip lines to make them more robust and effective.

Violence Victimization, Substance Use, and Suicide Risk Among Sexuality Minority High School Students

This report from the CDC focuses on Youth Risk Behavior Survey (2015-2017) data related to sexual minority youth. The data demonstrate differences in victimization, substance use, and suicide risk for sexual minority high school students when compared with their heterosexual peers, as well as differences between sexual minority groups

Rate of High School-Aged Youth Considering and Dying by Suicide Rises
Suicide is the second-leading cause of death among teenagers in the United States. The 2017 data from the Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System show that, overall, the percentage of high school students who report seriously considering suicide has increased since 2009. This measure shows the same trajectory as the suicide rate, with the most significant increases for both occurring among female high-school students. This Child Trends article blog post discusses the trends in self-reported serious consideration of suicide and suicide rates, from 2009 to 2017.

Supporting Families Impacted by Incarceration: A Dialogue with Experts
The Child Abuse and Neglect Technical Assistance and Strategic Dissemination Center hosted a discussion among experts and practitioners in the field to discuss the impact of parental incarceration on children and families. This report summarizes the major themes and ideas raised by participants. Key findings include the need to address bias and stigma for individuals who have been incarcerated and their families, models for data integration between child welfare and correctional systems, and improvements in collaboration between child welfare and correctional systems. The report also discusses key intervention points at arrest, sentencing, during imprisonment, and at release/re-entry.

This report from the National Commission on Social, Emotional, and Academic Development calls on all sectors of society to accelerate efforts to ensure that all US students have access to quality social and emotional learning. From a Nation at Risk to a Nation at Hope pulls together information from students, parents, teachers, school and district leaders, community leaders, and other experts and provides detailed recommendations to enhance social and emotional learning. These recommendations include having a clear vision that broadens the definition of student success to prioritize the whole child; transform learning settings so they are safe and supportive for all young people; embedding social, emotional, and cognitive skills in academics and school-wide practices; building adult expertise in child development; leveraging community partners to address the whole child; and forging closer connections between research and practice.

The Mental Health Training Intervention for School Nurses and Other Health Providers in Schools
Authors: Bohnenkamp, J., Hoover, S., Connors, E., Wissow, L., Bobo, N., & Mazyck, D.
Journal, Year: The Journal of School Nursing, 2018
School nurses encounter many students presenting with mental health needs. However, school nurses report that they need additional training and resources to be able to support student mental health. This study involved a multilevel, stakeholder-driven process to refine the Mental Health Training Intervention for Health Providers in Schools (MH-TIPS), an in-service training and implementation support system for school health providers, including school nurses, to increase their competence in addressing student mental health concerns. Findings highlighted the importance of mental health content including assessment, common factors of positive therapeutic mental health interactions, common elements of evidence-based mental health practice, and resource and referral mapping. Additionally, multifaceted ongoing professional development processes were indicated. Study findings indicate that, with recommended modifications, the MH-TIPS holds promise as a feasible, useful intervention to support school nurse practice and ultimately impact student mental health and educational outcomes.

From Evidence to Impact: Joining Our Best School Mental Health Practices with Our Best Implementation Strategies
Lyons, A., & Bruns, E.
Journal, Year: School Mental Health, 2019
There is substantial research evidence for the effectiveness of school mental health strategies across problem areas, developmental levels, and the prevention-intervention spectrum. At the same time, it is clear that the education and mental health fields continue to struggle to apply this evidence at any level of scale. This commentary reflects on ways in which education-specific applications of implementation science principles—and explicit consideration of determinants of implementation success—may guide more consistent use of evidence in school mental health. After reviewing implementation determinants and strategies across multiple levels of effect (i.e., the outer setting, inner setting, individual, and intervention levels), the commentary goes on to recommend specific areas of needed attention in school mental health implementation efforts and research. These include a need to adapt interventions to better fit the context of schools, streamlining school mental health programs and practices to make them more implementable, and recognizing the critical role of assessment and selection of evidence-based interventions by school leaders. The commentary concludes by reflecting on the substantial opportunity provided by the education sector to both apply and advance implementation science.

The Core Components of Evidence-Based Social Emotional Learning Programs
Lawson, G., McKenzie, M., Becker, K., Selby, L., & Hoover, S.
Journal, Year: Prevention Science, 2018
Implementing social emotional learning (SEL) programs in school settings is a promising approach to promote critical social and emotional competencies for all students. However, there are several challenges to implementing manualized SEL programs in schools, including program cost, competing demands, and content that is predetermined and cannot be tailored to individual classroom needs. Identifying core components of evidence-based SEL programs may make it possible to develop more feasible approaches to implementing SEL in schools. The purpose of this study was to systematically identify the core components in evidence-based elementary school SEL programs, using the five interrelated sets of competencies identified by the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL) as an organizing framework. We present the components that were identified, and the rates at which each component was included in the sample of evidence-based SEL programs. The core components that occurred most frequently across programs were Social Skills (100% of programs), Identifying Others’ Feelings (100% of programs), Identifying One’s Own Feelings (92.3% of programs), and Behavioral Coping Skills/Relaxation (91.7% of programs). These findings illustrate the feasibility of systematically identifying core components from evidence-based SEL programs and suggest potential utility of developing and evaluating modularized SEL programs.
Authors: Bersamin, M., Coulter, R., Gaarde, J., Garbers, S., Mair, C., & Santell, J.
Journal, Year:
Journal of School Health, 2019
Improvements in health behaviors and academic outcomes have been associated with school-based health centers (SBHCs). However, underlying mechanisms for these associations have been largely unexamined, particularly among lower-income youth. The current study examines the relationship between SBHCs and school connectedness and whether this relationship differs by youths’ socioeconomic status (SES). Student-level cross-sectional data from 503 traditional high schools in California were analyzed using multilevel regression models. California Healthy Kids Survey 2013-2014 data included information on 3 dimensions of school connectedness and demographic characteristics including SES as measured by parental education. School-level demographic data was gathered from publicly available sources. Although no significant relationship between SBHCs and any of the school connectedness dimensions emerged, there were significant cross-level interactions between SBHCs and parent education. SBHCs were more positively associated with school connectedness (adult caring, adult expectations, and meaningful participation) among lower SES students compared to students with higher SES. SBHCs may be particularly effective in affecting school connectedness among lower income youth populations. This has wide ranging implications with regards to planning (eg, careful selection of where SBHCs can be most effective), and future research (eg, examining the effectiveness of specific SBHC strategies that support connectedness).

Psychological Distress Among Primary School Teachers: A Comparison With Clinical and Population Samples
Authors: Titheradge, D., Hayes, R., Longdon, B., Allen, K., Price, A., Hansford, L., … Ford, T.
Journal, Year: Public Health, 2019
Summary: This analysis explored the level of psychological distress among primary school teachers in the South West of England as compared with clinical and general population samples. 
Secondary analysis of data from the Supporting Teachers and Children in Schools (STARS) trial completed by up to 90 teachers at baseline, 9, 18 and 30 months of follow-up.
We used the Everyday Feelings Questionnaire (EFQ) as a measure of psychological distress. Baseline data on teachers were compared with a population sample of professionals and a clinical sample of patients attending a depression clinic. Our teacher cohort experienced higher levels of psychological distress than comparable professionals from the general population, which were sustained over 30 months of follow-up. Levels of psychological distress were lower than those found in the clinical sample. Using a cut-point indicative of moderate depression, our data suggest that between 19% and 29% of teachers experienced clinically significant distress at each time-point. We detected high and sustained levels of psychological distress among primary school teachers, which suggests an urgent need for intervention. Effective support for teachers’ mental health is particularly important given the potential impact of poor teacher mental health on pupil well-being, pupil attainment and teacher–pupil relationships.
In this announcement, the Institute of Education Sciences (Institute) requests applications for its Low-Cost, Short-Duration Evaluation of Education Interventions (Low-Cost Evaluation) grant program. The program is designed to support rigorous evaluations of education interventions that state or local education agencies expect to produce meaningful improvements in student education outcomes within a short period (for example, within a single semester or academic year). These evaluations are to be conducted for $250,000 or less and completed within two years. The grant program will be carried out by research institutions and state or local education agencies working together as partners. The evaluations will use randomized controlled trials or regression discontinuity designs to determine the impact of interventions on student education outcomes, and will rely on administrative data or other sources of secondary data to provide measures of these student education outcomes.
Deadline: March 07, 2019
Amount: Unspecified

Institute of Education Sciences, Department of Education: Special Education Interventions
In this announcement, the Institute of Education Sciences (Institute) requests applications for its Low-Cost, Short-Duration Evaluation of Special Education Interventions (Low-Cost Evaluation) grant program. The program is designed to support rigorous evaluations of interventions that state and/or local education agencies (or other state or local agencies that oversee early intervention services) expect to produce meaningful improvements in education outcomes for infants, toddlers, children, and youth with or at risk for a disability within a short period (for example, within a single semester or academic year). These evaluations are to be conducted for $250,000 or less and completed within two years. The program will be carried out by research institutions and state or local agencies working together as partners. The evaluations will use randomized controlled trials, regression discontinuity designs, or single - case experimental designs to determine the impact of interventions on education outcomes for infants, toddlers, children and youth, and will rely on administrative data or other sources of secondary data to provide measures of these education outcomes.
Deadline: March 07, 2019
Amount: Unspecified

Policy Brief: Setting Young Children Up for Success: Decreasing Suspensions by Investing in Social and Emotional Development
The Child Health and Development Institute, the Center for Child Advocacy, and the Office of the Child Advocate Suspension co-created a policy brief on decreasing suspensions of students in pre-K through second grade. This policy brief details both Connecticut’s laws about suspension of young students and best practices for how to limit exclusionary discipline practices in schools.

IMPACT Report: Healthy Students and Thriving Schools: A Comprehensive Approach for Addressing Students' Trauma and Mental Health Needs
The Child Health and Development Institute published a report on the current state of comprehensive school mental health services. (CSMHS). This report includes an explanation of CSMHS, best practices for CSMHS, a model for implementing trauma-informed practices as well as recommendations and resources for state policymakers to sustain CSMHS.


Attention 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade teachers: have you used a social emotional learning curriculum in your class? Was it helpful? We want your opinions!

At the NCSMH, we want to know...
1. What make a good curriculum?
2. What makes it hard to use?
3. What makes a curriculum relevant to your students?

We are looking for 30 teachers (3rd, 4th, or 5th grade) to participate in a one-time interview and earn a $50 gift card. To find out more, call 410-706-6544 or send an email to
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