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Research & Evaluation

The NCSMH leads innovation in comprehensive school mental health systems designing and evaluating cutting-edge programs, practices and policies to advance high impact outcomes for youth, families, educators and communities.

Evaluating Promising School Staff and Resource Officer Approaches for Reducing Harsh Discipline, Suspensions and Arrests

Project Title:

Evaluating Promising School Staff and Resource Officer Approaches for Reducing Harsh Discipline, Suspensions, and Arrests

Project Staff:

Dr. Cindy Schaeffer, Principal Investigator

Dr. Sharon Hoover, Co-Principal Investigator

Dr. Jill Bohnenkamp, Co-Investigator

Dr. Kris Scardamalia, Project Coordinator

Funding Source:

U.S. Department of Justice National Institute of Justice (NIJ) Comprehensive School Safety Initiative – “Demonstration, Evaluation, and Validation Tests for School Safety”

Project Partners:

Cecil County Public Schools

Project Description:

Cecil County Public Schools is partnering with the NCSMH to evaluate the effectiveness of an intervention package in reducing exclusionary discipline practices. Interventions include trauma support for students, training in de-escalation techniques for school staff and school resource officers, implementation of a graduated discipline and restorative practice model at secondary schools, and training for school resource officers on child development and mental health. Outcome measures will include suspension/expulsion rates, referrals to juvenile justice, and ratings of school climate. NCSMH is coordinating implementation with a team from Cecil County Public Schools and will be evaluating the effectiveness of the interventions as well the providing a cost-benefit analysis.

For more information about this project, please contact Cindy Schaeffer at Cschaeff@som.umaryland.edu or Kris Scardamalia at kscardamalia@som.umaryland.edu.


Promoting School Safety: A Comprehensive Emotional and Behavioral Health Model (EBH-CRP)

Project Title:

Promoting School Safety: A Comprehensive Emotional and Behavioral Health Model

Project Staff:

Dr. Sharon Hoover, Co-Principal Investigator

Dr. Jill Bohnenkamp, Co-Principal Investigator

Dr. Eric Slade, Co-Investigator

Dr. Cindy Schaeffer, Co-Investigator

Funding Source:

U.S. Department of Justice National Institute of Justice (NIJ) Comprehensive School Safety Initiative- “Developing Knowledge about What Works to Make Schools Safe”

Project Partners:

Baltimore County Public Schools

Project Description:

Baltimore County Public Schools is partnering with the NCSMH to conduct a randomized controlled trial of the impact of the Comprehensive Emotional and Behavioral Health Crisis Response and Prevention Intervention (EBH-CRP) on school safety. The EBH-CRP intervention is a comprehensive training, organization and support protocol for schools and communities to strengthen their ability to serve students’ mental health needs. The services included in the EBH-CRP intervention will include universal prevention, early identification, assessment and service linkage, crisis response and post crisis relapse prevention. NCSMH is the research partner for this trial and will evaluate the impact of this large scale, multi-faceted mental health focused intervention on school safety outcomes.

For more information about this project, please contact Jill Bohnenkamp at jbohnenk@som.umaryland.edu.


Core Components of Social Emotional Learning

Project Title:

Improving Student Mental Health through Classroom-Based Social-Emotional Learning

Project Staff:

Dr. Kris Scardamalia, Co-Principal Investigator

Dr. Sharon Hoover, Co-Principal Investigator

Funding Source:

Betty Huse Foundation

Project Description:

This new initiative builds on previous work by the NCSMH in partnership with the Baltimore County Public Schools to identify the “common components” of evidence-based SEL and Positive School Climate programs. This project will develop a modularized SEL curriculum designed with teachers’ specific needs in mind, primarily lack of preparation time and lack of non-academic classroom time. The modular approach increases the flexibility in choice of lesson topic and provides customization of the SEL schedule for weekly lessons. Increased flexibility is hypothesized to increase teacher usage of the curriculum. This design will be evaluated for the acceptability and feasibility in a small group of local elementary schools.

For more information about this project, please contact Kris Scardamalia at kscardamalia@som.umaryland.edu.


Brief Intervention for School Clinicians (BRISC)

Project Title:

Brief Intervention for School Clinicians

Project Staff:

Dr. Sharon Hoover, UMB Principal Investigator

Dr. Daniel Camacho, Project Coordinator

Ms. Rachel Bolan, Research Assistant

Ms. Megan Prass, Research Assistant

Funding Source:

Institute for Education Sciences (IES) grant, funded by the U.S. Department of Education

Project Partners:  

University of Washington SMART Center, Wilder Center in Minnesota, Anne Arundel County Public Schools, Baltimore City Public Schools

Project Description:

The National Center for School Mental Health is collaborating with the University of Washington as one of three sites (Maryland, Minnesota, Washington) to test the efficacy of the Brief Intervention for School Clinicians. The BRISC intervention is evidence-based and is designed to promote the social, emotional, and behavioral outcomes of high school students via its implementation by school-based clinicians. The NCSMH is coordinating all of the research activities for the Maryland intervention site, which spans 14 high schools in Anne Arundel County and Baltimore City. Research activities include the training of school-based clinicians, recruitment of participants, data collection and organization, and evaluating the impact of the intervention.

For more information about this project, please contact Daniel Camacho at DCamacho@som.umaryland.edu.


Promoting Student Resilience

Project Title:

Promoting Student Resilience (PSR)

Project Staff:

Dr. Nancy Lever, Evaluation Co-Principal Investigator

Dr. Elizabeth Connors, Evaluation Co-Principal Investigator

Dr. Rebecca Vivrette, Faculty, Implementation Core Co-Lead

Dr. Jill Bohnenkamp, Faculty, Engagement Core Co-Lead

Dr. Joanna Prout, Faculty

Funding Source:

Department of Education

Project Partners:

Baltimore City Public Schools

Project Description:

On behalf of Baltimore City Public Schools (PI: Jim Padden, BCPS), the NCSMH provides program evaluation services to inform ongoing implementation and quality improvements of the Promoting Student Resilience (PSR) program. The purpose of PSR is to build and increase school district capacity to address the comprehensive behavioral and mental health needs of students in communities that have experienced significant civil unrest in the past 24 months (prior to grant award). Thirteen pre-selected focus schools in three Baltimore City neighborhoods (Upton-Druid Heights, Sandtown-Winchester, and Penn North) participate in a multi-component prevention and intervention package of supports to promote trauma-informed schools for all members of the school community as well as provide specialized care for students most affected by trauma. PSR activities include Restorative Practices training and coaching, Kognito’s At Risk and Friend2Friend online trainings, Holistic Life Foundation Mindfulness Groups, Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Expanded School Mental Health (ESMH) Services. The evaluation consists of a mixed-methods, longitudinal design to evaluate the impact of proposed activities and interventions on 13 PSR schools. Evaluation data are used to directly inform quality improvement of training activities, supports and services while they are provided as well as sustainability and district-wide scale-up of successful activities.

For more information about this project, please contact Nancy Lever at nlever@som.umaryland.edu.


Kaiser Permanente Resilience in School Environments

Project Title:

Kaiser Permanente-Resilience in School Environments (KP-RISE)

Project Staff:

Dr. Sharon Hoover, Principal Investigator

Dr. Jill Bohnenkamp, Co-Principal Investigator

Dr. Dana Cunningham, Social Emotional Evaluation Liaison  

Dr. Joanna Prout, Research Supervisor

Mr. Perrin Robinson, Research Specialist

Ms. Rachel Bolan, Research Assistant

Funding Source:

Kaiser Permanente

Project Partners:

Los Angeles Educational Partnership

Project Description:

In collaboration with Kaiser Permanente, the NCSMH is performing an evaluation of the Resilience in School Environments (RISE) nationwide by collecting information about the implementation and effectiveness of trauma-informed training and policy in a total of 40 schools. The evaluation includes measures of staff and student well-being, school climate, and the extent to which school policies and procedures align with recommended practices for trauma-informed care.

For more information about this project, please contact Joanna Prout at jprout@som.umaryland.edu.


The Mental Health Training Intervention for Health Providers in Schools (MH-TIPS)

Project Title:

The Mental Health Training Intervention for Health Providers in Schools (MH-TIPS)

Project Staff:

Dr. Sharon Hoover, Principal Investigator

Dr. Jill Bohnenkamp, Co-Principal Investigator

Dr. Elizabeth Connors, Co-Investigator

Project Partners:

National Association of School Nurses, Center for Mental Health Services in Pediatric Primary Care at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Sacramento State University School of Nursing

Project Description:

The Mental Health Training Intervention for Health Providers in Schools (MH-TIPS) is an innovative in-service training and implementation support system for school nurses and other school health providers aimed at enhancing their competence in managing the needs of students with or at risk for emotional and behavioral difficulties that interfere with learning.  MH-TIPS was developed by the NCSMH in partnership with the National Association of School Nurses and the Center for Mental Health Services in Pediatric Primary Care at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. The MH-TIPS training program includes core training content components linked to the context of school health providers with respect to student mental health issues including:

  • Strategies and Skills to Promote Positive and Supportive Interactions for Student Mental Health Issues
  • Mental Health Identification and Assessment
  • Mental Health Referral and Resource Mapping
  • Mental Health Crisis Response and Safety Assessment
  • Mental Health Intervention Best Practices for Delivery by School Health Providers
  • Psychotropic Medication

The entire MH-TIPS training course is available online at https://mdbehavioralhealth.com/training. The MH-TIPS Interactive Online Platform includes:

  • Implementation training videos
  • School health provider mental health video vignettes
  • Downloadable resources and tools
  • Frequently asked questions
  • Interviews with experts
  • Opportunity to earn continuing education credits

Publication on MH-TIPS:

Bohnenkamp, J. H., Hoover, S. A., Connors, E. H., Wissow, L., Bobo, N., & Mazyck, D. (2018). The mental health training intervention for school nurses and other health providers in schools. The Journal of School Nursing, 1059840518785437. https://doi.org/10.1177/1059840518785437

For more information about this project, please contact Jill Bohnenkamp at jbohnenk@som.umaryland.edu.


Smart Choices

In partnership with the Maryland Center of Excellence on Problem Gambling, the NCSMH is implementing and evaluating a youth gambling prevention program in several Baltimore City schools for students in grades 5, 7, 8 and 12.


Telemental Health in Schools

Project Title: Telepsychiatry in Schools

Project Staff:

Dr. David Pruitt, Principal Investigator

Ms. Jennifer Cox, Clinician, Associate Director

Ms. Kelly Willis, Clinician, Assistant Director

Dr. Elizabeth Connors, Senior Evaluator

Mr. Anthony Garove, Research Assistant

Dr. Nancy Lever, Faculty Consultant

Dr. Sharon Hoover, Faculty Consultant

Funding Source:

Maryland Department of Health

Project Partners:

University of Maryland School Mental Health Program

Project Description:

The integration of telepsychiatry into school-based mental health has the potential to increase access to services and improve efficiency of service delivery. However, very few programs that focus on school-based telepsychiatry exist. The University of Maryland School Mental Health Program (SMHP) began providing mental health services in 1989. The SMHP currently provides universal mental health promotion, early identification, prevention and intervention services in 27 Baltimore City Public Schools. Since 2014 the SMHP has been a component of the UM Child and Adolescent Child Psychiatry Fellowship and has trained 2nd year psychiatry fellows in school mental health service provision. Psychiatry fellows are assigned to 2-3 school sites and work in partnership with school mental health clinicians to provide psychiatric services within a comprehensive, multi-tiered system of support. There are approximately 7 fellows and 20 clinicians who serve 27 schools. Fellows provide direct care psychiatry and support a comprehensive, multi-tiered system of mental health promotion, prevention and intervention supports via a blend of in-person and telepsychiatry. The SMHP has collected program evaluation data to inform quality improvement for many years. The current project is funded by the Maryland Department of Health to understand psychiatrists’ productivity, effectiveness, expectations and experiences providing school-based telepsychiatry in order to inform ongoing expansion and improvements of school telepsychiatry service models.

For more information about this project, please contact Elizabeth Connors at econnors@som.umaryland.edu.