United Way’s Empowering Minds initiative is centered in schools. This environment allows us to reach a majority of teens where they spend a majority of their days.
Achieving targeted milestones are the centerpiece of Mental Health Schools of Distinction. This is how success is measured. The six milestones are based on Wisconsin’s Department of Public Instruction’s School Mental Health Framework: Building & Sustaining a Comprehensive School Mental Health System. A benefit of using this framework is that schools are already engaged in this work. This initiative will provide the resources and coordination that schools need to be successful.
A Mental Health School of Distinction means building a Comprehensive School Mental Health System, which provides a continuum of services to promote student mental health and wellbeing. We know that positive mental health allows a teen to fully explore who they are and what they want to do with their life. Awareness and understanding of mental health is an important part of overall health and wellbeing.
Caregivers, teachers, school counselors, and other adults who interact with youth play a key role in helping youth build life skills that help them adapt to challenges in healthy and constructive ways. The benefits of school-based mental health include improved student learning, engagement, and graduation rates as well as a reduction in bullying, risky behaviors, substance abuse, school violence, and involvement in the juvenile justice system.
School Mental Health Milestones
This milestone is achieved when the school, in partnership with the community, determines the assets and needs of the school and community to analyze how well the continuum of supports meets those needs and leverages strengths and resources.
This milestone is achieved when the school develops a Comprehensive School Mental Health System that relies on collaboration across key stakeholders, such as school and district staff, community partners, out-of-school time providers, students, and families.
This milestone is achieved when the school improves referral pathways by establishing a school mental health team to map available resources and interventions.They also develop guidelines for additional data collection and triaging referrals.
This milestone is achieved when the school offers an array of mental health promotion, early intervention, and treatment services for students, staff,and caregivers. This includes crisis support services, and policies and practices that foster mental health.
This milestone is achieved when the school identifies strategies that optimize financial and nonfinancial assets needed to maintain and improve the Comprehensive School Mental Health System.
This milestone is achieved when the school collects both quantitative and qualitative data to inform priorities and action steps to continuously improve the Comprehensive School Mental Health System.