You know that students need support to become their best selves. Behavioral health care addresses student social-emotional issues and is a critical ingredient for learning. When schools support a student’s positive emotional development, all students are better able to learn and enjoy the positive social aspects of school.
In 2009, Alameda County launched a School-Based Behavioral Health Initiative to create a shared model for building and financing school-based behavioral health across the county. We have since invested over $30 million annually in behavioral health systems in all 18 school districts at over 200 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; and 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 CHSC-staffed Our Kids Our Families Program and 20 community-based behavioral health providers.
How it works
Building a strong behavioral health system within a school district is no easy task. Changing educational priorities, high stakes testing, staff turnover, and differences in awareness about student behavioral health needs are just some of the challenges. How can you support districts to build the infrastructure needed to promote the healthy social-emotional development of all students?
When we partner with a school district to support behavioral health needs, our first step is to educate their leadership about our model for a behavioral health system. Once we are aligned around the model’s framework, our planning process is similar to the overall process for any school health initiative.