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College of Arts & Sciences
School Behavioral Health Team


Projects

Here is a summary of the projects that the SBHT is currently working on.

Project About School Safety: Interconnecting PBIS and School Mental Health to Improve School Safety 

The purpose of this National Institute of Justice-funded study is to evaluate the efficacy of the interconnected systems framework (ISF) in improving school safety and positive school climate, behavioral and discipline problems, emotional and behavioral health, and student academic outcomes. This study is the first experimental evaluation of the ISF’s contributions to school and student safety and functioning above the effects of PBIS alone or PBIS and SMH clinicians operating in a normative (i.e., disconnected) fashion. Participating schools will be 24 elementary schools across sites in South Carolina and Florida currently implementing PBIS with high levels of implementation while also maintaining an absence or minimal presence of school mental health. Schools will be randomly assigned to one of three conditions---PBIS only, PBIS+SMH, or ISF. Students and teachers in all three conditions will be asked to complete climate surveys and additional surveys assessing students’ exposure to violence, emotional and behavioral health, and student satisfaction with school mental health services. We hypothesize that students in schools assigned to the ISF condition will receive less discipline referrals and report fewer emotional/behavioral health concerns by follow up compared to their peers. By evaluating the effectiveness of multiple interventions and their impact on school climate and school safety, results from this study will expand knowledge in the field of school behavioral health and has the potential to impact related judicial and educational policies nationally and in the communities participating in the study.


PCORI: Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute Grant

Funding from PCORI will provide the opportunity to host two high quality conferences on effective school behavioral health (SBH) for patients, families, leaders and staff from youth-serving systems and other stakeholders in 2016 and 2017 in Myrtle Beach, SC. PCORI funding will address a three-pronged agenda of engaging patients and stakeholders in training, research, and dissemination which we anticipate will result in increased engagement and collaboration between the research community and patients and stakeholders. Funding from this grant will specifically do the following:

1) Provide state-of-the art training on evidence-based prevention, early intervention and treatment in SBH.

2) Support a research pre-conference including patients, clinicians, researchers and other stakeholder groups, with training focused on principles of PCORI, Comparative Effectiveness Research, and research strategies for improving the quality of SBH and assessing its impacts compared to other service delivery approaches. We will also hold research forums including these groups to enable patients and other stakeholders to be actively involved in and guide SBH research in SC. 

3) Broadly disseminate information through a growing listserv, website, newsletters, and other methods on effective and evidence-based practices, and on progress of research to improve the quality of SBH in SC.


Carolina Network for School Mental Health

The Carolina Network represents a collaboration of diverse stakeholders across North Carolina and South Carolina that seek to support programs and initiatives related to school mental health (SMH) to promote student health and wellness, reduce barriers to learning, and to help ensure the success of youth in the Carolinas. Stakeholders include academic faculty and staff across universities in North Carolina and South Carolina, as well as SMH practitioners, K-12 educators, administrators at state boards of education, mental health, and other human service agencies. The network was developed to promote and enhance awareness of SMH initiatives across the states and as a potential means to facilitate productive collaborations within and between states, including clinical activities, empirical endeavors, grant writing, policy development, and dissemination of evidence-based practice. The Network has convened on five occasions since the inaugural meeting in January 2011, and will hold its next meeting in West Jefferson, North Carolina in August 2016. The Network is gaining momentum in advancing partnerships with North and South Carolina schools, community-based agencies, families and youth-serving systems and organizations to achieve improved educational and health outcomes for all children, especially those with unmet mental health needs. To learn more about the CNSMH, please visit: http://www.carolinanetwork.org.


The South Carolina School Behavioral Health Community

The South Carolina School Behavioral Health Community (SCSBHC) is an organization comprised of state and local policy makers, educators, mental health staff, higher education professionals, graduate students, administrative staff and advocates. The mission of the SCSBHC is to promote student academic and personal success by reducing barriers to learning and supporting the social, emotional, and behavioral needs of all youth and families in South Carolina. The SCSBHC holds annual conferences in April to share and collaborate on ways to connect schools, families and mental health. The USC SMHT has partnered with various organizations throughout the state to collaborate and maintain this community. The SMHT is closely involved in hosting and planning the annual conferences. For more information on the SCSBHC and our past and upcoming conferences, please visit: www.schoolbehavioralhealth.org.


Carolina CARES: Strong Students, Safe Schools

Carolina CARES will focus on building resilience among children contending with poverty in Florence, Darlington, and Marion counties in South Carolina. Funding will build sustainable Safety & Support Teams (SSTs) in schools, including SBMH clinicians, who will work closely with school nurses and counselors. The goal is to move beyond isolated and ineffective approaches for disadvantaged students contending with emotional/behavioral (EB) problems toward a coordinated approach emphasizing the most effective integrated practices to prevent and reduce problems, while promoting resilience and healthy psychosocial and school functioning.  BCBS Foundation grant funding supports the installation of SBMH clinicians in Florence, Darlington, and Marion county elementary schools. In addition to the clinician’s daily responsibilities providing mental health intervention, SBMH clinicians will be active participants in Safety & Support Teams (SSTs) in the schools. Focused on building a multi-tiered system of support (MTSS), these teams will also include school-employed mental health staff (e.g., psychologists, counselors), educators, school nurses, school administrators, and family members/parents (as indicated). SSTs will coordinate prevention (Tier 1 in the MTSS), early intervention (Tier 2 MTSS), and treatment (Tier 3), will implement evidence-based practices at each tier of support, and will monitor and refine these practices using data-based decision making.