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School Mental Health Integration - Maryland School Mental Health Alliance

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The Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) has received an 18-month $299,316 federal grant designed to strengthen access for students and their families to mental health services in schools. The grant from the United States Department of Education is one of 20 this year, from 84 applications nationwide.

Maryland’s project will involve five local school systems: Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Harford, St. Mary’s, and Washington counties.  Schools selected must have an active Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports Program. Three schools from each system will be identified to participate in this project.

The School Mental Health Integration grant will focus on a full continuum of mental health promotion, prevention, early intervention, treatment and crisis intervention in schools. It is designed to enhance the knowledge and skills related to making appropriate referrals, and will improve the links among school teams, families, youths, health care providers and the larger public mental health system. 

Using the existing structure of the PBIS teams and the “zone” concept of categorizing kids (green, yellow, and red zones representing the proportion of kids requiring different levels of prevention/intervention) as a starting point, the program will work to better integrate mental health systems into the PBIS structure for students with more intensive mental health needs (red and yellow zone kids).

The project will be helpful in developing tools and resources for students and families who need assistance in mental health and behavioral concerns.  It is planned that the tools and resources developed will ultimately be able to be shared with all of Maryland’s school systems.

The grant establishes a Maryland School Mental Health Alliance. The Alliance partners include the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE)-both Student Services and Special Education, with the University of Maryland’s Center for School Mental Health Analysis and Action (CSMHA), 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.

Project Structure

Management Team:  The Management Team will be comprised of leaders from the state agencies, the CSMHA, and partnering organizations.  The state agency representatives on the management team will maintain active communication with system leaders from their respective agencies.  The Management Council will be co-led by Milton McKenna and Vicki Taliaferro from MSDE and Nancy Lever from the CSMHA.  The Management Team will link together state organizations and initiatives related to school mental health, will enhance connections with federal and national resources, and will coordinate the accomplishment of project aims.

Advisory Council:    In its work to further the MSMHA, the management team will be guided by an Advisory Council containing diverse stakeholders including families, youth, school staff and leaders, community staff and leaders, advocates, government officials, and researchers.  Colleen O’Neil Yanchulis from Anne Arundel County, a family member, will be the chair of the Council. Ms. O’Neil will be guided in her leadership by Jane Walker and Susan Tager from the Maryland Coalition of Families for Children’s Mental Health.  The Advisory Board will meet quarterly, beginning in January. The Advisory Council will provide guidance and diverse perspectives related to the overall project design, materials development, implementation, integration enhancement, evaluation, and project management.

School Mental Health Integration Teams:   The MSMHA will collaborate with five public school districts and their PBIS Schools through the use of School Mental Health Integration Teams.  The teams will build on existing PBIS community teams, but will be enhanced with a stronger family engagement component and a focus on improving mental health care for red and yellow zone students.  The school mental health integration teams will 1) communicate with stakeholders in the district about the efforts and resources of the MSMHA, 2) work to assess their needs related to integrating schools and the larger mental health system and connect these needs with identified resources, 3) provide feedback to the Management Council about the district’s needs related to mental health training and services, 4) provide support and guidance to district schools and school staff by connecting them with the MSMHA, 5) collaborate with the MSMHA to provide intensive support to three targeted schools as part of the demonstration project. Directors of Student Services are Kathleen Lyons (St. Mary’s County); Dale Rauenzahn (Baltimore County); Steve Lentoski (Harford County);Jose Torres (Anne Arundel County); and Mike Markoe (Washington County)and will be the key contacts for the integration teams and for the demonstration project.

Services/Resources Provided

ToolKit:    Focus will be on the red and yellow zone kids and developing useful materials.  Many of the materials already have been developed as part of other initiatives.

Crisis Management Resource:    MHA will gather additional resources on crisis management and elaborate on what already exists.  This is separated from other toolkit resources due to it being a specific grant mandate. This will be a section included in the ToolKit notebook and posted to the website.

Newsletter:  A newsletter will be distributed quarterly from the MSMHA to all five school systems and their School Mental Health Integration Teams to provide links and articles regarding key mental health resources.  The first newsletter will be distributed in December and will put a spotlight on the MSMHA.

SMHQAQ /Linkage Protocol Assessment/ School Staff Mental Health Referral Questionnaires:  These assessment tools have been developed and will be administered to the five school systems.

Training:  CSMHA will lead this training focuses on mental health needs of students and their families and how to access care.  Dates for training will be January 25, 2006, May 2006, July 17, 2006 (PBIS Summer Institute), and October, 2006.  A SHIP session will occur the week of July 31, 2006.  The model of training will be a train the trainer model in which PBIS coaches are trained and provided resources to share with the schools they serve in their community.  Training will focus on improving the ability of staff to make appropriate mental health referrals, enhancing mental health knowledge and basic skills to use with students, and improving school-mental health system integration in PBIS schools. 

Family Involvement:  The Maryland Coalition of Families for Children’s Mental Health will take the lead and will provide guidance, training, and oversight to family members on the School Mental Health Integration Teams.

Demonstration Initiative:  Three schools in each district (elementary, middle, and high school) will participate in this special initiative designed to intensively explore issues of effective school-mental health system integration based on a systematic framework for school mental health quality assessment and improvement developed by the CSMHA through a National Institute of Mental Health grant.  The schools will be identified by Directors of Student Services in the five districts.  These schools (through the use of a PBIS team or student support team) will identify areas for improvement in their mental health efforts and will be provided with more intensive resources and technical assistance from the CSMHA to advance their practices. 

Multi Scale Learning System: The CSMHA will take the lead in connecting to national partners – the IDEA partnership, other IDEA partnership states (Missouri, Ohio, North Carolina), and to other national centers and initiatives connected to mental health in schools (Mental Health-Education Integration Consortium, Center for School-Based Mental Health, Center for the Advancement of Mental Health Practices in Schools, Johns Hopkins Center for Prevention and Early Intervention).  The information and resources form these national connections will be disseminated for use in Maryland.

Evaluation:  The CSHMA will be the lead, and will use the questionnaires and documentation of activity associated with the project to help with the evaluation of the project.