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Since its inception, the Center for School Mental Health (CSMH) has been committed to promoting student education, health, and mental health through a shared family–school–community agenda.  Back in 1995, the CSMH was very involved in helping to advance the school based health care movement both in Baltimore City and at the national level.  We were fortunate to have a strong connection with the National Assembly on School-Based Health Care (NASBHC), with Dr. Mark Weist helping to plan the inaugural meeting in 1995 and serving on the first Executive Council of the organization, and with Dr. Steve Adelsheim, serving as the first co-chairs of its Mental Health (formerly Psychosocial Services) Section.  The CSMH continues to work closely with the NASBHC on advancing high quality services, training, and infrastructure to support school mental health.

The above developments and the University of Maryland’s history with providing school-based services in Baltimore City provided the CSMH with the framework to compete for one of two national technical assistance centers for mental health in schools in Spring of 1995. With much support from the city of Baltimore and the State of Maryland, we submitted the grant and on September 19, 1995 we learned that we had obtained the grant, along with the UCLA Center for Mental Health in Schools, which received the other one.

Originally named the Center for School Mental Health Assistance, the CSMH was funded by the Maternal and Child Health Bureau of the Health Resource and Services Administration (HRSA) as a technical assistance center to advance mental health in schools.  From its inception, the Center’s leadership and staff has recognized the importance of providing services to children, adolescents, and families directly in their communities.  The CSMH has always focused on reducing barriers to learning and promoting success for all students.  Led by Dr. Mark Weist, the founder of the Center and a pioneer of expanded school mental health, Dr. Lois Flaherty, CSMH Advisory Board Chair and an early advocate of school mental health and advancing the role of psychiatry, and Marcia Glass-Siegel, the first CSMH Program Director and a clinical social worker with strong advocacy and skills related to children’s mental health, the CSMH established itself as a leading resource in advancing research, training, policy, and practice in school mental health at local, state, and national levels.  

Much of the success of the CSMH relates to its efforts to bridge research and practice.  The CSMH is affiliated with four University of Maryland school mental health programs and has strong connections with school mental health program leaders from across the country.  The CSMH is committed to being informed by frontline practice and in turn to inform this practice to promote high quality evidence-based practices and programming across the three tiers (universal, selected, and indicated) of service delivery.  Through a National Community of Practice on Collaborative School Behavioral Health and its affiliated 75 organizations, 17 states, and 12 practice groups, the CSMH has focused its efforts to reach a broad and diverse array of stakeholders with investment in school mental health and student success.  The CSMH has convened thought leader meetings, developed resources, delivered presentations, written publications, and has participated in key meetings and committees at local, state, national, and international levels.  The CSMH has focused on helping to advance understanding and skill related to providing mental health services and programming through strong family-school-community partnerships and has increasingly focused on how to implement and sustain effective policies, programs, and services.  

Since its initial funding, the CSMH has been refunded in 2000 by HRSA with co-funding from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 2005 by HRSA, and most recently in 2011 when the CSMH was awarded three years of funding from HRSA to continue as the only federally funded school mental health program and policy analysis center.  The CSMH is led by co-directors Drs. Sharon Hoover Stephan and Nancy Lever. Dr. Hoover Stephan joined the CSMH in 2000 as a psychology intern, continued as a postdoctoral fellow, and served for many years as the CSMH Director of Research.  Dr. Lever has been with the CSMH since its inception serving as a psychology intern, postdoctoral fellow, and for many years as Director of Training and Outreach.

Highlights in the CSMH History

1989:  the University of Maryland School Mental Health Program was developed under the leadership of Dr. Lois Flaherty

1995:  the CSMH was funded by HRSA to serve as a national technical assistance and training center

1996:  the CSMH established the Annual Conference on Advancing School Mental Health, the premier conference on advancing school mental health. 

1998:  the Mental Health Education-Integration Consortium (MHEDIC) was formed

2000:  the CSMH was refunded by HRSA and SAMHSA

2001:  the first School Health Interdisciplinary Program (SHIP) was hosted by the CSMH in partnership with the Maryland’s education, juvenile justice, health and mental hygiene agencies. 

2003:  International Alliance for Child and Adolescent Mental Health and Schools (INTERCAMHS) was formed

2003:  Dr. Mark Weist (Principal Investigator) and Drs. Sharon Hoover and Nancy Lever (Co-Investigators) received an R01 from the NIMH to conduct a formative evaluation (across Maryland, Delaware, Texas) assessing proximal impacts on quality of clinician services and implementation of evidence based practices, as well as distal impacts on student level outcomes

2004:  the National Community of Practice on Collaborative School Behavioral Health was formed

2004:  the first annual National Community Building Forum was co-hosted by the CSMH and IDEA Partnership as a pre-conference for the Annual Conference on Advancing School Mental Health

2004:  the CSMH partnered with the National Assembly on School-Based Health Centers (NASBHC) for the national Mental Health Education and Training (MHET) Initiative for School-Based Health Centers

2005:  the CSMH was refunded by HRSA to serve as a national school mental health program and policy analysis center

2005:  Maryland School Mental Health and Education Integration Grant was awarded by the U.S. Department of Education.  The Maryland School Mental Health Alliance was formed. Alliance partners include the Maryland State Department of Education, CSMH, the Governor’s Office for Children, the Johns Hopkins University’s Center for Prevention and Early Intervention, the Mental Health Association of Maryland, the Mental Hygiene Administration/Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, Maryland’s Department of Juvenile Services, the Maryland Coalition of Families for Children’s Mental Health, and the Maryland Assembly of School-Based Health Care.

2006:  our affiliated website, was launched

2006:  the Prince George’s School Mental Health Initiative was launched, funded by Maryland State Department of Education and Prince George’s County Public Schools, under the leadership of Drs. Mark Weist and Dana Cunningham

2006:  NASBHC received a 5-year cooperative agreement with the Center for Disease Control's Division of Adolescent Health to build capacity of state and local education agencies to provide effective and sustainable school mental health services to young people. NASBHC partnered with the CSMH, the Center for School-Based Mental Health Programs at Miami University in Ohio, the Center for Advancement of Mental Health Practices in Schools at the University of Missouri-Columbia, and the Federation of Families of Palm Beach County, Inc to do this work

2007:  the inaugural issue of Advances in School Mental Health Promotion was published (Editors Dr. Mark Weist and Michael Murray)

2008:  a course on Innovations and Evidence Based Practice in School Mental Health was developed and taught by Drs. Mark Weist, Michael Lindsey, and Nancy Lever

2008:  the Anne Arundel School Mental Health Initiative was launched under the leadership of Drs. Mark Weist and Carrie Mills

2010:  the Baltimore School Mental Health Initiative at the University of Maryland, funded by funded by Maryland State Department of Education and Baltimore City Schools, was launched under the leadership of Drs. Lever, Hoover, and Weist, and Tom Sloane. 

2010:  in July Drs. Sharon Hoover and Nancy Lever were appointed as Co-Directors for the CSMH

2010:  the first Military School Behavioral Health Pre-Conference at the Annual Conference on Advancing School Mental Health was held

2011:  the Center was awarded funding as the only federally funded school mental health program and policy analysis center with Co-Directors Sharon Hoover Stephan and Nancy Lever and Program Manager, Nicole Brandt. 

2011:  the CSMH created an expert advisory panel chaired by former Director Dr. Mark Weist to help advance CSMH goals and objectives.

2011:  the CSMH in partnership with the Center for Health and Health Care in Schools hosted a Thought Leader Dialogue on Bridging Education and Mental Health Research in School Mental Health. 

2011:  the CSMH Facebook and Twitter accounts were launched

2011:  Georgetown University held an intensive two-day pre-conference training on Effective Leadership for Systems Change that Promotes School Mental at the Annual Conference on Advancing School Mental Health