School-Based Mental Health Service Prevent Social and Emotional Learning in Schools
School-based mental health services are a barrier to establishing a Continuum of Social and Emotional Learning Supports for students in K-12 and Charter Schools. During the emergence of evidence-based practices, County Departments of Mental Health invested heavily in training their staff and community-based providers in a wide-rage of behavior and cognitive-behavioral therapy curriculums. Adapted as prevention and early intervention, traditional mental health providers offered the latter as school-based mental health services under the conventional diagnosis and treatment medical model.
So first, there are misaligned communications as schools promote "Social and Emotional Learning," the mental health system delivers albeit fragmented, Prevention and Early Intervention services, essentially one-in-the-same. LEAs that offer SEL focus on faculty and staff professional development as oppose to amongst students to strengthen their emotional intelligence. Then there is the inappropriate diagnosis of students with behavioral issues with mental disorders. LEA Department of Student-Supports relying on school-based mental health services as a Tier III MTSS intervention inadvertently refer students for mental health services who otherwise have behavioral issues, thus perpetuating stigma and distrust. This approach deters schools from offering a continuum of learning supports that prevent problem behaviors and intervene early among students within trauma-exposed communities.
In November of 2019, Surgeon General, Dr. Nadine Burke, acknowledge toxic stress and adverse childhood experiences as a public health crisis. Dr. Burke's recommendation to investigate the intersection of health and education system is timely as COVID19 exacerbates the behavior and academic challenges of our future youth leaders. To rectify these different systems and community dynamics and meet the objectives of improving the behavior and the academic performance of students, the seamless integration of school and mental health system need occur. Therefore, a non-threatening approach to building a continuum of social and emotional learning supports rest is developing trauma-informed paraprofessionals. Trauma-Informed Paraprofessionals are supervised and coordinated in pairs to offer a small-group behavioral modification to primary school students as universal primary prevention and cognitive-behavioral therapeutic learning to intermediate school-age youth as early intervention. The multi-program approach will effectively identify students experiencing undiagnosed depression while strengthening intergenerational peer social and emotional interaction as students transition through post-secondary education.