Behavioral Health

Why School Mental Health Matters

Schools are uniquely situated to play an important, perhaps leading, role in the prevention and treatment of mental health disorders.  Many students receive mental health services at their school: seventy percent of children receiving services get them at school. 1, 2

The school environment is often a place of protection and security for students struggling with mental health disorders.

SBHCs: The Model for Providing Mental Health Care in Schools

School-based health centers (SBHCs) provide accessible, age-appropriate primary care and evidence-based screenings to identify students that have underlying behavioral health needs – such as substance use, suicide, trauma, safety, and social determinants of health.

SBHCs address the other health care needs that often co-occur with mental health conditions. They identify treatable concerns earlier than siloed mental health services alone.3

SBHCs are set up in a way that feels safe and acceptable to students and their families, helping them access care from trusted adults early and often.

Making Schools & Classrooms Trauma-Informed

Due to the impact trauma can have on youth, the California School-Based Health Alliance works to identify best practices for trauma-informed, healing-centered, and resilience-focused work in schools and school-based health centers in California.

Trauma-Informed Services at SBHCs

Our online toolkit aims to provide resources and lessons learned on how SBHCs can increase trauma-informed practices and student resilience. Each section includes a description of the focus area, project highlights, resources from the two projects, and examples of how SBHCs and schools can implement effective practices to support students with trauma exposure.

CSHA’s Restorative, Trauma-Informed Schoolwide Assessment

The intention of the Restorative, Trauma-Informed Schoolwide Assessment is to support school leaders and staff in assessing their use of restorative, trauma-informed practices and to identify the strengths and areas of improvement for cultivating a restorative, trauma-informed school. The term restorative reflects an integration of restorative practices. Restorative practices are relational approaches used to proactively build a connected, inclusive school culture through the use of regular restorative “circles,” restorative communication strategies, and respectful and equitable approaches to conflict and discipline. A trauma-informed school is one that: Realizes the widespread impact of trauma and understands potential paths for healing and resilience; Recognizes how trauma and stress show up in leadership, staff, students, families, and others in the school community; Responds by fully integrating knowledge about trauma into policies, procedures, practices, and the overall school culture; and actively Resists Re-traumatization (adapted from SAMHSA’s Concept of Trauma and Guidance for a Trauma-Informed Approach, 2014). Together, a restorative, trauma-informed school integrates these two approaches to promote social and educational justice and resilience for youth, their families, and school staff.

Case Study: Frick Middle School (Oakland, California)

CSHA partnered with Oakland Unified School District to support thirteen school-based health centers serving ten Oakland middle schools to increase trauma screenings and interventions, improve school culture and climate, and identify strategies to maximize Medi-Cal billing and future funding opportunities to continue these services. One of the schools in this program is Frick Impact Academy, which is shifting their school culture and climate through wellness programming. Read the full case study.

We offer technical assistance consulting hours for organizations that are members of the California School-Based Health Alliance. You can learn more about membership and join right here on our website!