Comprehensive School Mental Health: A Multi-Tiered Approach to Promote Well-Being and Address Concerns

Adapted from the Child Health and Development Institute:

While appreciating that the school’s primary role is to educate children, many schools also recognize their role in addressing students’ mental health and behavioral concerns as an important way of supporting their social-emotional development, academic achievement, and overall well-being. School principals indicate that mental/behavioral health is one of the most challenging unmet needs among their students.

Approaching student mental health with a comprehensive, trauma-informed lens that integrates health promotion, prevention, early intervention, and more intensive treatments leads to better outcomes for schools, students, and communities. Research suggests that evidence-based mental health services offered across multi-tiered system of supports are effective and more accessible to youth when delivered in schools.

The Child Health and Development Institute (CHDI), a nonprofit dedicated to promoting children’s behavioral health and well-being through policy, practice, and systems change, offers multiple resources and initiatives to help schools in Connecticut and beyond develop effective comprehensive school mental health systems. CHDI works with districts and schools to provide technical assistance, training, and consultation on assessing current behavioral health services, identifying areas to strengthen, developing realistic, custom plans that match the district’s needs and capacity, evaluating progress, implementing evidence-based treatments, connecting to community-based services, and more.

CHDI also administers the School-Based Diversion Initiative (SBDI) to help schools reduce arrests and exclusionary discipline and connect more students to behavioral health services. They have also developed a free, online trauma screening training course for schools called Trauma ScreenTIME. Both of these resources can be incorporated into a comprehensive school mental health approach.

Visit the CHDI webpage on Comprehensive School Mental Health Systems below to learn more about resources for your school or district: