Study 4: The School-based Mental Health Services Study

The School-based Mental Health Services Study examined one of the components in the Center's model of factors contributing to implementation of an effective system of care; namely, the promotion of collaboration between key agencies. It is essential that effective collaboration between the school and mental health systems exist in order to better serve individual children and families, and to facilitate significant improvement in the mental health service delivery system.

The study investigated school-mental health collaboration in the context of the overall mental health system, and specifically investigated two other factors in the Center's model: financing methods that are consistent with implementing an effective system of care, and mechanisms that ensure strong family voice at all levels of the system.

  • The study produced new knowledge about the status of collaboration between education and mental health systems from a national and community perspective, and explicated the factors associated with the effective implementation of comprehensive and integrated school-based mental health services for children identified as being emotionally disturbed and served in special education programs.
  • This study illustrated the interdependence of the national, community, and local (school) levels for implementing effective services for children and adolescents with serious emotional disturbances and described the specific services they receive, and the providers and funding sources of these services. The study team assessed both formal and informal inter-agency agreements that support the provision of mental health services to children in schools and the effects of these services on the functioning of the children and their families.

Three research questions drove this investigation:

  • What are the dimensions (factors) of effective school-based mental health services?
  • Do school-based models that vary on the proposed factors vary in effectiveness?
  • Are comprehensive integrated school-based mental health services more effective at the student level and overall school level than models that are limited to the delivery of services from an outside agency?

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