(Washington, DC) —The Department of Mental Health is expanding its school-based mental health program to four public schools. The new schools are: J.O. Wilson Elementary; Harriet Tubman Elementary, Bertie Backus Middle School and M. Washington Senior High School.
Based in a growing number of public and public charter schools, the school based mental health program provides prevention, early intervention and clinical services for children and youth experiencing behavioral and/or emotional problems that may act as barriers to their learning. In addition, counselors are on hand in the aftermath of traumatic events affecting the school population.
The US Surgeon General reports one in five children and adolescents experience the signs and symptoms of a diagnosable mental disorder each year, resulting in significant disruptions of school classrooms, increased truancy, increased risk for alcohol and drug abuse and decreased graduation rates.
“This program brings services directly to the children who need them,” said Shauna Spencer, Associate Deputy Director for Children andYouth Services. “It is a key component of our comprehensive clinical services for children and their families.”
Since its inception in 2002, the program has grown to 46 schools. According to a report issued earlier this year, a majority of principals with a mental health clinician in their schools believe that the number of fights between students lessened, the number of students repeating a grade decreased, and disciplinary referrals declined.
“The school-based mental health program works. We are very excited about its growth and plan to continue this expansion early next year,” said Stephen T. Baron, Director of the Department of Mental Health.