Thriving Minds: Building Comprehensive School Mental Health Systems
Supporting students’ mental health is critical to ensuring that they can learn and thrive. For many young people, the isolation, uncertainty, and trauma of the past year have bred anxiety and depression, with potentially long-lasting effects on their success in school and beyond. Schools must respond to this need by providing thoughtful and effective mental health supports. Offering timely interventions is only one part of the solution, though—investing in a range of isolated initiatives won’t lead to schoolwide structures that address student mental health in meaningful, consistent ways. Instead, schools should seek to build comprehensive mental health systems that allow them to support the wellbeing of all students, now and in the future.
The Rennie Center, the Massachusetts School Mental Health Consortium, and BRYT (Bridge for Resilient Youth in Transition) have teamed up with the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education on a new initiative, Thriving Minds. Through a series of learning opportunities, educators will receive guidance and support on building comprehensive school mental health systems that address the holistic needs of their students.
The foundation for these learning opportunities will be a series of professional development workshops on the fundamental components of a comprehensive school mental health system—such as data, interventions, and infrastructure—all presented with a racial equity lens. School teams wishing to go deeper will have the opportunity to participate in ongoing learning cohorts with peers engaged in similar work. And for teams with a plan to advance toward a comprehensive school mental health system, we will offer mini-grants to support implementation and shared learning.
Please visit the Thriving Minds landing page for more info on upcoming trainings.
Massachusetts Comprehensive School Mental Health Systems: 2021-2022 Collaborative Improvement & Innovation Network (CoIIN)
The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) in partnership with the Massachusetts School Mental Health Consortium (MASMHC) is pleased to again offer the opportunity for district teams to engage in a learning collaborative. This 2021-2022 school year opportunity is facilitated by the National Center for School Mental Health (NCSMH). The focus is on establishing comprehensive school mental health systems in Massachusetts and in other participating states. State team members include representatives from parent and youth leadership organizations (CPLAN and PPAL/YouthMove), the Department of Mental Health (DMH), the Department of Public Health (DPH), the Department of Children & Families (DCF), and MassHealth.
Please visit the MA State CoIIN landing page for more info.
School Mental Health Leadership Institute
MASMHC in partnership with the Rennie Center is co-leading the School Mental Health Leadership Institute, a project funded and facilitated by Massachusetts Partnerships for Youth (MPY). This program trains participants to develop the capacity to act as both clinical and mental health leaders and change agents to build comprehensive mental health systems in their district. Through a series of trainings and cohort-based discussions, participants acquire and exercise a new set of skills to help them set and enact a vision for change.
For many young people, the isolation, uncertainty, and trauma of the past year and a half have bred anxiety and depression, with potentially long-lasting effects on their success in school and beyond. Schools must respond to this need by providing thoughtful and effective mental health supports. Offering timely interventions is only one part of the solution. Schools should seek to build comprehensive mental health systems that allow them to support the wellbeing of all students, now and in the future, rather than invest in a range of isolated initiatives.
The SMH Leadership Institute includes ten hours of professional development and training, divided across five sessions to allow for application and practice between sessions. Sessions are conducted virtually and are open to all interested participants. Each session will introduce participants to generally applicable principles of adult learning and change management, and will be grounded in examples drawn from the school mental health context.
Supporting Staff to Support Students (S2S): Collaborating to Develop Group Mental Health Services in Schools
The Department of Mental Health (DMH) in partnership with the Massachusetts School Mental Health Consortium (MASMHC), the International Trauma Center (ITC), Boston Children’s Foundation, and the National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN) is excited to offer an opportunity for schools and districts to engage in a learning collaborative to support the establishment of group-based services. Approximately 10 districts will be selected for participation in this pilot project. Selected schools/districts will be provided free professional development, coaching, and resources to support school based mental health staff (school counselors, school psychologists, and adjustment counselors/school social workers) in developing skills and gaining knowledge and resources to facilitate group- based services using evidence-based therapeutic modalities.
School-based staff will be paired with a mental health service provider selected from a variety of agencies across the state to co-facilitate group-based services in the selected schools/districts. This model will allow for students to receive access to care in the short term and school-based mental health staff to build capacity to run groups utilizing specific evidence-based counseling approaches over the course of the project, specifically: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Trauma-focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT), and Compassion Care Coping Groups (CCCG). Schools/districts selected will determine which approaches they will work to implement over the course of the project.
Please click here for more detailed information.