Presentation on theme: "School Climate Policy Levers for Mental Health Services Kelly Vaillancourt-Strobach, Ph.D, NCSP National Association of School Psychologists Director,"— Presentation transcript:
School Climate Policy Levers for Mental Health Services Kelly Vaillancourt-Strobach, Ph.D, NCSP National Association of School Psychologists Director, Government and Professional Relations
Importance of School Climate and Mental Health Supports in Schools
What is School Climate? “…the quality and character of school life…” “…sets the tone for all the learning and teaching done in the school environment…“ “... is predictive of students’ ability to learn and develop in healthy ways.” –-National School Climate Center
Key Elements of a Positive School Climate 1. Interpersonal Relationships –Social Support 2. Institutional Environment –Connectedness and engagement 3. Safety –Physical AND Psychological Safety 4. Teaching and Learning –Learning Supports *National School Climate Center
Think of a School… Did you feel safe? Did you feel welcomed? Do other students feel safe and welcomed? Do the staff feel supported? Do students and staff feel connected to the school and each other? Did positive relationships exist?
What Is the Purpose of Education? College and Career Readiness? Boosting Learning? School Boards (Peifer, 2014) –75% respondents identified “helping student fulfill their potential” or “prepare students for a satisfying and productive life” –Only 16% chose preparing for college or career Common theme – we need to teach people, not a curriculum
What is Mental Health? Mental health is not simply the absence of mental illness Mental health also encompasses social, emotional, and behavioral wellness and the ability to cope with life’s challenges.
Brass Tacks Mental health is a pre-requisite to effective learning Viewing mental health services in schools as a luxury or extra-curricular service undermines learning outcomes.
Need for Mental Health Supports Divorce Financial difficulties Homelessness Family conflict Violence Deployment Death Unemployment Bullying Academic Difficulties
Need for Mental Health Supports Approximately 1 in 3 students report being bullied each year ▫Bullying and harassment is associated with increased depression and anxiety for bullies, victims, and bystanders Approximately 2.2 million adolescents aged 12 to 17 reported a major depressive episode in the past year Nearly 6 out 10 of these adolescents did not receive any treatment Overall, 1 in 5 of children and adolescents in the U.S. experience signs and symptoms of a mental health problem and 5% experience “extreme functional impairment”
Why Not Let Community Services Handle This? Where the kids go Multiple barriers to accessing mental health services in community Research is clear –Most kids in need of support do not access supports in the community
Mental Health Supports School-employed mental health professionals –School psychologists –School social workers –School counselors MTSS –Range of supports of varying intensity based on need –Individual, small group, classroom, school- wide, district-wide –Prevention and intervention
The Good News Ensuring student access to mental health supports and MTSS: improves student mental wellness, behavioral functioning, and academic achievement. improves educational outcomes by decreasing absences, discipline referrals and improving test scores. reduces special education referrals improve aspects of the school climate
More Good News Positive School Climates: improve academic achievement reduce the likelihood of risky behaviors helps foster increased student engagement improves overall school safety
MTSS Serves the Whole Child Math Calculation Reading Fluency Social Skills Attendance Social Studies Witness to violence/gangs Class participation Self Esteem Self-Regulation Science Reading Decoding Reading Comprehension Communication skills
Solution 1: Funding Increase funding for ESEA Title I and IV; and IDEA Appropriate funds for: –The Elementary and Secondary School Counseling Program –School Climate Transformation Grants –Comprehensive School Safety Initiative –Safe Schools/Healthy Students –Project Aware
Solution 2: Support Policies that Encourage MTSS (e.g. PBIS, RTI) Include measures of school climate in accountability plans Require consultation with SISP in local and state schoolwide plans Allow Title II professional development funds to be used for SEL Create an office or point person within the Department of Education to coordinate efforts
Support Policies that Expands access to school based mental health programs Increase ratios of school employed mental health professionals Encourage collaborative school- community partnerships Encourage measures of school quality and availability of learning supports in accountability plans Prohibit bullying and harassment
Current ESEA Proposals Safe Schools Improvement Act Student Nondiscrimination Act Grants for the Integration of MH and Schools Mental Health First Aid Training Professional development for social- emotional learning
Key Messages Positive mental health and school climate matters to student and school success. Sustained investment in both represents an investment in academic success. Policy makers need to be intentional and directive about their support of these policies and practices
Remember… If we teach a child to read they can get a job; If we teach them to behave they can keep it. -Kevin Dwyer