Alison and Katherine are the founders of the school-based mental health model, Healthy Minds, Safe Schools. Healthy Minds, Safe Schools is a multi-tiered framework for integrated social, emotional, and behavioral (SEB) supports on a school campus.
An integrated approach to SEB health has shown to be more impactful than either social-emotional learning or behavioral programming independently (Cook et al., 2015). Today’s students experience more adverse childhood events and trauma, but are treated with less empathy and are taught less coping strategies (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 2017; Perry, 2002). As public schools have been forced into the accountability movement, our students are being denied experiences to develop critical thinking skills and social problem solving skills. Education must be about more than passing standardized tests, more than just teaching students how to keep their heads above water. They need to learn how to be resilient learners and civic citizens.
Healthy Minds, Safe Schools combines the evidence-based practices of social-emotional learning and positive behavior intervention supports into a socially just, whole-child framework that supports students, families, and educators. This model was designed to reduce school violence, student suicides and suicidal ideation, student-to-student violence, and is a preventative team approach. It also aligns with recent reports by the United States Secret Service National Threat Assessment Center (2018) and may well be the gold standard.
Healthy Minds, Safe Schools data repeatedly show that implementation of this model significantly reduces student-to-student violence and reduces discipline office referrals, and proactively identifies students at-risk for internalized and externalized behaviors. Schools with strong leadership who are looking to decrease their schools’ acts of violence, decrease instances of self-harm, improve achievement, and improve their overall school culture, are the ideal fit for Healthly Minds, Safe Schools.
Meet our Model
Campus-wide social-emotional and behavioral curriculum is provided to students. Strategies to build positive teacher-student relationships are introduced, reinforced, and embedded daily. Programming is provided to increase cultural competence, increase the application of the home-school communication framework, increase opportunities for engagement from families, and opportunities to promote school-wide recognition and reinforcement. Tier 1 supports are available to all students from the first day of school. Tier 1 family and school supports include, but are not limited to, family engagement activities on campus, parenting classes, and facilitating connections with community-based support networks.
The leadership team develops Tier 2 interventions for the students identified as at-risk and works with the teachers toward implementation. Interventions implemented will vary depending on the needs and risk factors of the students. Such interventions include, but are not limited to, small group counseling organized according to at-risk domain, participation in the Leadership Group (counseling group that teaches appropriate outlets for externalized behavior and reinforces good decision-making skills and pro-social behaviors), and small group explicit behavior instruction (e.g. LEAPS). Support is also offered to teachers through collaborative team consultations for staff dealing with challenging student behaviors. Outreach to families and relevant community-based organizations transpire based on the individual needs of the students identified as at-risk. Tier 2 family and school supports include daily communication logs, home-school behavior contracts, and mentoring.
Students placed in Tier 3 according to their performance on the benchmark SEB screeners or according to the severity of their externalized/internalized behaviors. Tier 3 students have their behavior monitored daily. Interventions at this tier are developed and implemented on an individual basis and include, but are not limited to, a functional behavior intervention plan (BIP). More intensive family involvement and support of community-based organizations are sought. Tier 3 family and school supports include teacher coaching, student-parent training, and positive family engagement sessions.