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School-Linked Behavioral Health Services

Overview page (PDF)

School-Linked Behavioral Health programs offer effective behavioral health services right in schools.

School-Linked Behavioral Health programs:

  • Increase accessibility for children and youth who are uninsured or underinsured
  • Improve outcomes for children and youth with a mental health or substance use disorder diagnosis
  • Improve identification of behavioral health issues for children and youth.

Why Schools?

Untreated mental health and substance use issues are a significant barrier to learning and educational success. Placing children’s behavioral health services in schools provides a great opportunity for mental health promotion, prevention and early identification and intervention.

Schools reduce barriers such as:

  • Financial barriers, including being uninsured or underinsured
  • Child care
  • Transportation
  • Concerns about parents or guardians missing work
  • Mistrust/stigma
  • Negative past experiences
  • Waiting lists or extensive intake processes
  • Stress

School-Linked Behavioral Health services have proven particularly effective in reaching children who have never accessed mental health services. Many children with serious mental health or substance use needs are first identified through this program. Community mental health agencies provide behavioral health professionals and practitioners at schools, with most of their time involved in direct child and family services including assessment and treatment, as well as teacher consultation, care coordination and school-wide trainings.

Results include:

  • Coordination of care, with services delivered to where the kids are
  • Increased access and sustained engagement in treatment
  • Evidence-based services from highly trained behavioral health professionals regardless of student's insurance status.
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