This guide is not going to outline the case for school mental health here since there are many resources that help school systems, health care systems, and mental health systems understand the importance of comprehensive school mental health.
School mental health is heavily aligned with school and health care initiatives happening across the state of California, including:
- Multi-Tiered Systems of Support (MTSS)
- Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS)
- Social and Emotional Learning
- Community Schools
- Trauma-informed classrooms and practices
- Suicide prevention policies in schools
- Restorative Justice
While this guide curates tools for building school mental health services and programs, none of this should happen in isolation from other school and county initiatives.
Implementing School Mental Health includes addressing the school environment and policies that dictate staff and students’ daily experiences. School mental health initiatives are not just about increasing access to specific interventions or services but also about addressing the whole school community and climate. All of the above mentioned initiatives work to create more positive school climates and cultures with supportive student and staff relationships. This work, alongside more targeted services for students that need more intensive support, create a comprehensive approach to increasing student mental health.
School-Based Mental Health: Improving School Climate and Students’ Lives
A brief two-page factsheet that summarizes the impact of mental health on students, why school-based mental health is important, and some guiding best practices. (California School-Based Health Alliance)
Why Student Mental Health Matters, Student Supports: Getting the Most Out of Your LCFF Investment
A brief guide that presents the case to school administrators and partners for the importance of addressing student mental health in school settings. (California Community Schools Network)
Summaries of County-School Partnerships to Advance School Mental Health
Descriptions of how local entities in seven counties are partnering to advance school-based mental health services. Information is provided about what services are included in the initiatives, who the lead partners are and how the partnerships evolved, how coordination is supported, and what funding is leveraged. (California School-Based Health Alliance)
Overview: School Mental Health Programs
A brief two-page factsheet describing various school mental health programs and interventions, including an overview of the multi-tiered approach to school mental health. (California School-Based Health Alliance)
Cheat Sheet for School Mental Health Initiatives
A short list of definitions and additional resources to help understand other school-based initiatives that intersect with school mental health. (California School-Based Health Alliance)
Every Young Heart and Mind: Schools as Centers of Wellness
A report from the Subcommittee on Schools and Mental Health that reviews the need for school-based mental health services and provides state recommendations to improve mental health access and outcomes and increase academic success. (Mental Health Services Oversight and Accountability Commission)
Tulare County Office of Education Acronyms List
List of common acronyms to support cross communication between education and mental health agencies.
A note about language: we try to use the terminology, “mental health,” consistently throughout this guide to cover the continuum of school-based services, from prevention to treatment, that address a student’s sense of wellbeing. However, some linked resources use the terminology, “behavioral health.” The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) defines behavioral health as “the promotion of mental health, resilience, and wellbeing; and the treatment of mental and substance use disorders.”