To increase the number of students receiving mental health services, Connecticut schools have engaged community mental health providers in delivering school-based care. The engagement and support of community mental health providers has led to an increase in students receiving school-based mental health services in all three participating SS/HS districts and in the state.
Due to a variety of factors, including logistical barriers, stigma, and poor past experiences with mental health systems, children and families often do not seek or follow through with mental health services in community settings such as outpatient mental health centers. To reduce some of the barriers to traditional community care, Connecticut school districts provided financial and technical assistance support to community mental health providers to allow them to provide services directly in the schools. For example, New Britain schools partnered with the Klingberg Family Centers to offer individual, group, and family mental health treatment in schools. They also leveraged a partnership with Central Connecticut State University to augment school mental health services with Marriage and Family Therapy and Psychology interns.
“Having the community mental health agency offer services directly in schools increases access to care,
including for low income families. It is more comfortable to receive services in the local school and
reduces the stigma of getting services in the outpatient clinic.”
—Noel Casiano, PsyD, LMFT
Ana Grace Project
The State Department of Education provided support for districts statewide by developing a template Memorandum of Understanding for schools to partner with community mental health providers that included language about data sharing. The SS/HS State Management Team Data Innovation Committee is currently working on establishing a uniform mechanism for collecting data on school-based mental health referrals and services.