This research project is in progress. PCORI will post the research findings on this page within 90 days after the results are final.
What is the research about?
Many children in the United States who need mental health services don’t get them. These services may not be available; children and their families may also worry about the stigma of getting help for mental health. School behavioral health, or SBH, programs are one way to make sure children get the services they need. In SBH programs, community mental health providers work with schools to offer social, emotional, behavioral, and academic support to students. In this study, the research team is looking at how well two SBH programs improve middle school students’ social, emotional, behavioral, and academic functioning.
Who can this research help?
Results may help school administrators who are considering SBH programs.
What is the research team doing?
Students from 20 middle schools—10 in Maryland and 10 in South Carolina—are taking part in this study. In both programs, clinicians from local mental health centers in each state work with the schools to address the social, emotional, and academic needs of students. Clinicians include social workers and licensed counselors. The research team is assigning 10 schools in each state by chance to implement one of two SBH programs.
One program is called Wellness. Wellness includes
- A quality review. This review may look at things like how well schools promote mental health and screen for mental health problems.
- Clinicians and families working together. This work may include things like identifying problems and meeting students’ mental health goals.
- Cognitive behavioral therapy, or CBT. CBT helps students learn skills to address problems like anxiety and depression and improve behavior in school.
- Training for clinicians on each of the three elements listed above.
The second program is called Partnership. It includes the Wellness program, plus training and support to help clinicians, teachers, and a family leader at each school work together to reduce the stigma of using SBH services. Teachers in the second program can use a program called the Guide to promote good mental health in their students.
Schools are taking part in the SBH programs for three years. The research team is surveying students who receive services at the start of the study and again every 90 days. The team is asking about
- The amount of services received
- How satisfied students are with the services received
- Social functioning, such as relationships with family and peers
- Emotional and behavioral functioning, such as anxiety, depression, or disruptive behavior
- Mental health knowledge and perceived stigma
- The quality of services and supports provided in school
- Students’ relationships with their school therapists
- Parent participation
Each year, the research team is collecting data from each school on students’ grades, attendance, lateness, and discipline problems. The research team is also following up with a group of middle school students from the two SBH programs when they go to high school to assess their risky behaviors, such as alcohol use.
Students, parents, school counselors and administrators, psychologists, social workers, doctors, and teachers are helping to plan and carry out the study.
Research methods at a glance
|Design||Randomized controlled trial|
|Population||2,800 middle school students at 20 schools who are receiving school-based behavioral health services and their parents|
Primary: academic grades, academic attendance rates, discipline rates, perceptions of school climate, access to services, satisfaction with services, social functioning, emotional/behavioral functioning, emergent risk behavior
Secondary: mental health knowledge and perceived stigma, overall standard of services and supports provided in school, client–therapist relationship, parent participation and engagement
|1-year follow-up for primary outcomes|
More to Explore...
Engagement Awards Teams Ride Momentum to Research Projects
Read a feature story that highlights how three Eugene Washington PCORI Engagement Awards teams clinched additional PCORI funding to channel the lessons and successes of their work into three new research projects -- which includes this study -- that answer patient-centered research questions.