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Treatment of Mental Health Challenges through Collaboration

Wisconsin’s SS/HS Team and partners committed to promote and improve recognition and treatment of mental health challenges through improved inter-agency collaboration and improved access to treatment. 

Wisconsin’s SS/HS team selected three LEA’s: Racine, Beloit, and the Menominee Indian Nation, to serve as demonstration sites for implementation of the SS/HS program. A key SS/HS goal was to improve student access to mental, emotional, and behavioral health services. LEA’s began by conducting a comprehensive needs assessment in each district. Findings from the needs assessment informed their program planning, service delivery model, and professional development and training needs to build the structure and capacity needed to implement mental health services, evidence-based practices, and supports. Over a four year period, each LEA engaged local educators, mental health providers, family members, and community stakeholders, and cleared the path to build a system of school mental health services suited to the needs of their students and families. As a result, the number of students that received school-based mental health services in the three LEA’s more than doubled by the third year of their grant, totaling 6,839 students served in 2015-2016. 

The timely development of The Wisconsin School Mental Health Framework provided guidance on how to integrate and align school mental health services and supports within a school’s existing multilevel system of services and supports. Some of the programs and practices implemented by LEA’s are:

  • Universal level supports for all students included social and emotional learning opportunities, bullying prevention, suicide prevention, and others. 
  • Selected level supports required schools set up early identification and referral processes in coordination with community mental health providers.
  • Intensive level of supports called for closer collaboration with private and community mental health for wraparound services, psychiatric treatment, therapy, and others. 

“To be college and career ready, our students need to be both academically prepared and socially and emotionally competent.
To do this, we need to impart academic knowledge as well as social-emotional learning.
Through these habits, students will develop skills and habits needed for future success.”

                                                                                                                  Tony Evers, Ph.D.  State Superintendent

                                                                                                                                Wisconsin State Department of Public Instruction

LEA’s have noted an overall increase in student mental health referrals as a result of trainings, evidence-based practice implementation, and mental health promotion activities. Systematic referral processes increased access to school mental health services. Youth and providers stated that mental health stigma was not a barrier for students seeking help. No-show rates for clinical appointments in school-based clinics were minimal and provider-school-family communication improved. Children and youth received timely, appropriate treatment, often engaging families. Behavior coaches work with staff on how to address behavioral challenges in the classroom. Restorative practices, policies and implementation of the CIT-Y model (Crisis Intervention Team-Youth) to provide students with appropriate mental health and behavioral health treatment have been implemented to reduce suspensions and exclusionary discipline practices.

The Wisconsin School Mental Health Framework

Behavioral Health/Mental Health
Developmentally Appropriate
Integration of Behavioral Health into Primary Care
Social and Emotional Well-Being
System Change
Vulnerable Populations