Thriving Minds: Building Comprehensive School Mental Health Systems

Supporting students’ mental health is critical to ensuring that they can learn and thrive. For many young people, the isolation, uncertainty, and trauma of the past year have bred anxiety and depression, with potentially long-lasting effects on their success in school and beyond. Schools must respond to this need by providing thoughtful and effective mental health supports. Offering timely interventions is only one part of the solution, though—investing in a range of isolated initiatives won’t lead to schoolwide structures that address student mental health in meaningful, consistent ways. Instead, schools should seek to build comprehensive mental health systems that allow them to support the wellbeing of all students, now and in the future. 

The Rennie Center, the Massachusetts School Mental Health Consortium, and BRYT (Bridge for Resilient Youth in Transition) have teamed up with the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education on a new initiative, Thriving Minds. Through a series of learning opportunities, educators will receive guidance and support on building comprehensive school mental health systems that address the holistic needs of their students. 

The foundation for these learning opportunities will be a series of professional development workshops on the fundamental components of a comprehensive school mental health system—such as data, interventions, and infrastructure—all presented with a racial equity lens. School teams wishing to go deeper will have the opportunity to participate in ongoing learning cohorts with peers engaged in similar work. And for teams with a plan to advance toward a comprehensive school mental health system, we will offer mini-grants to support implementation and shared learning.
 

Summer Series

Thriving Minds is offering a series of training sessions and workshops in July and August to support school and district staff in planning for the return to school this fall. These sessions are meant to help lay the foundation for a comprehensive school mental health system grounded in equity. We will also offer office hours each week during the summer for anyone interested in learning more or gaining new insights into pressing questions.
 

 

WEEK OF JULY 26: ESTABLISHING SCHOOL MENTAL HEALTH SYSTEMS AND PRACTICES
 

COORDINATING SCHOOL-BASED STUDENT SUPPORT TEAMS
Tuesday, July 27  |  10:00 - 11:00 AM
Audience: Administrators and Mental Health Staff

Providing a comprehensive set of services for students can sometimes lead schools to form multiple, overlapping teams of educators and support staff--one for mental health, another for academics, a third for behavior, etc. A Comprehensive Student Support Team (CSST) can streamline the process of identifying and responding to student needs across multiple domains of learning and wellbeing. In this session, participants will review the role of effective teams within a multi-tiered system of support and reflect on the composition and approach of a high-functioning CSST. You should walk away with ideas for organizing a team to address student services and supports within your individual school setting.

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LEVERAGING ALL SCHOOL-BASED MENTAL HEALTH STAFF TO DELIVER THERAPEUTIC SERVICES
Thursday, July 29  |  10:00 - 11:00 AM
Audience: Administrators and Mental Health Staff

In order to effectively respond to the growing mental health needs of students, districts must be prepared to leverage all school mental health (SMH) staff (e.g., school counselors, school psychologists, school social workers/adjustment counselors). In this session, participants will discuss how to position all SMH staff to effectively deliver evidence-based therapeutic care to students, surfacing important considerations for developing a staffing model that supports access to services across all tiers. The session will also highlight essential workforce development supports, such as clinical supervision, ongoing professional development and coaching, and strong clinical leadership.

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OFFICE HOURS
Thursday, July 29  |  12:00 - 1:00 PM 

JOIN MEETING

 

WEEK OF AUGUST 2: COLLECTING AND USING MENTAL HEALTH DATA
 

UNIVERSAL MENTAL HEALTH SCREENING
Tuesday, August 3  |  10:00 - 11:30 AM
Audience: Administrators and Mental Health Staff

Schools are uniquely positioned to proactively identify students with emerging mental health concerns to support prevention efforts and reduce the impact of mental health problems. In this session, participants will gain knowledge and receive resources to support the implementation of universal mental health screening. It will include an overview of foundational steps that are required to support the use of screening measures and best practices for conducting screening and engaging in a coordinated follow-up with identified students. You will also learn about additional applications of screening data, including how it can be used to assess aggregate needs and gauge the efficacy of programs and systems.

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USING PSYCHOSOCIAL DATA TO IMPROVE IDENTIFICATION AND EVIDENCE-BASED INTERVENTIONS
Thursday, August 5  |  10:00 - 11:30 AM
Audience: Administrators and Mental Health Staff

Screening students for mental health needs is just the first step in using data to drive decision-making on appropriate interventions and supports. For students receiving mental health services, it is critical to consistently measure and provide feedback on student outcomes. This form of progress monitoring can help determine the effectiveness of treatment, identify opportunities for improvement, and make decisions on a future course. In this session, participants will learn how (and which types of) data can be used to monitor student progress and examine sample psychosocial data in order to apply their understanding in practice. 

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OFFICE HOURS
Thursday, August 5  |  12:00 - 1:00 PM 

JOIN MEETING

 

WEEK OF AUGUST 9: RACIAL EQUITY AND COLLECTIVE CARE IN SCHOOL MENTAL HEALTH
 

DEFINING EQUITY IN SCHOOL MENTAL HEALTH
Tuesday, August 10  |  10:00 - 11:30 AM
Audience: All Staff

It's common to hear that equity (and particularly racial equity) is core to the work of building a comprehensive school mental health system. However, we don’t always take the time to unpack what is meant by equity or what it means to make decisions with a racial equity lens. In this session, participants will have the opportunity to reflect on the meaning of equity, describe ways in which racism and white fragility function to maintain inequitable outcomes for students and families of color in Massachusetts public schools, and begin developing a common framework and shared commitment for promoting racial equity in the development of school mental health systems.

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USING DATA TO ADVANCE EQUITY IN SCHOOL MENTAL HEALTH: DISAGGREGATION AND DISPROPORTIONALITY
Wednesday, August 11  |  10:00 - 11:30 AM
Audience: Administrators and Mental Health Staff

Understanding data is a critical step to advancing equity in a school mental health system. In particular, looking for evidence of disproportionality (by race, gender, and other characteristics) can lead to meaningful conversations about equitable access to services. In this session, participants will consider what data to look at to better understand disproportional opportunities and outcomes in school mental health, reflect on the types of data available to them (and what may be missing), and practice engaging in data-informed conversations on areas in need of further attention.

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RECLAIMING A SENSE OF COMMUNITY, BELONGING, AND CONNECTION
Thursday, August 12  |  10:00 - 11:00 AM
Audience: All Staff

Recognizing that the return to school this fall may be disorienting for educators, this session moves beyond overly simplified (and now sometimes alienating) conceptions of “self-care” to look at how to regain a sense of community, belonging, and connection in the weeks and months ahead. Participants can expect to leave with tangible strategies and goals for the upcoming month that will allow them to think about their role in reconstituting the school community in the not-so-distant future.

REGISTER

 

OFFICE HOURS
Thursday, August 12  |  12:00 - 1:00 PM 

JOIN MEETING

 

 

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