ALAMEDA COUNTY HEALTH CARE
School-Based Behavioral Health
A focus on prevention.
Social-emotional health is a critical ingredient for learning. All students deserve support, whether for a specific behavioral health need, the impact of trauma, or just a bad day. When schools are able to support a student's positive social-emotional development, all students are better able to thrive academically and graduate ready for success in college and in their career.
In 2009, Alameda County launched the School-Based Behavioral Health Initiative, bringing together two divisions within the Alameda County Health Care Services Agency—Behavioral Health Care Services and the Center for Healthy Schools and Communities—to create a shared model for building and financing school-based behavioral health across the county. We have since taken the initiative to scale, investing over $25 million annually in behavioral health systems in all 18 school districts at over 170 schools.
The Initiative supports a wide variety of services and programs: school-based mental health clinicians; mental health consultation training for teachers, staff, administrators, and parents; development and improvement of referral and service coordination systems, such as Coordination of Services Teams (COST), internship programs, and consultation on school-wide efforts to create positive, culturally inclusive school environments. Services are provided by the Center-staffed Our Kids Our Families Program and 20 community-based behavioral health providers.
Our model for a school-based behavioral health system is oriented around prevention and wellness. It provides social-emotional support for all students; it also builds the capacity for the adults in their lives to support them at school and at home, and address barriers to learning. Our school-based behavioral health model defines six core components:
Three Tiers of Support that include universal prevention and promotion of positive school climate, early intervention for students with behavioral health challenges, and intensive intervention services for students with behavioral health issues requiring treatment.
District Capacity to support the implementation, ongoing improvement, and sustainability of a school-based behavioral health system across an entire district.
Cultural Responsiveness that honors the culture of students, families, and the community. This results in supports and services tailored to the unique needs of those served.
Coordinated Strategies at the district level and at individual school sites to ensure that resources are accessible, effective, and allocated where they are needed most.
School-Wide Responsibility whereby everyone within a school—teachers, parents, students, providers—plays a role in supporting the social-emotional health of students.
Ongoing Assessment to understand the needs and strengths of students and those who support them, followed by action.
School-based behavioral health services increase access to social-emotional health services and improve students' academic functioning and wellness.
Associate Director, School-Based Behavioral Health
Improved Access to Behavioral Health Supports
Increased School Staff Capacity
Improved Social-Emotional Wellness
Improved Parent-Child Relationships
Our 2014-2015 School-Based Behavioral Health Initiative Evaluation Report is available here.