A Prescription For Expanding School-Based Mental Health Services In New York City Public Elementary Schools

Issue Reports & Briefs

August 7, 2013

In CCC’s new report, A Prescription to Expand School-Based Mental Health in New York City Public Elementary Schools, we make the case for bringing mental health services to all NYC schools, with a focus on elementary schools.

This report is the result of a multi-year research project, which included surveys of elementary school principals and mental health clinicians working in elementary schools, a literature review, mapping of schools and programs and ongoing conversations with community partners and state and city agencies.

Our findings confirmed our belief that the availability of school-based mental health services is critical for New York City’s children.  Most surveyed school-based mental health clinicians and elementary school principals indicated that students’ unmet mental and behavioral health needs impacted their learning and the learning environment of others. Respondents expressed unequivocal support for bringing and keeping mental health services on-site; however, they also cited financial and regulatory barriers jeopardizing the ability to do so.

Based on these findings, the report puts forth a series of fiscally responsible recommendations to better meet the mental health needs of young New Yorkers through the expansion of school-based mental health services. In order to successfully bring these services to all elementary schools and keep them there, several recommendations are devoted toward addressing the state and city regulatory barriers impacting the fiscal viability of on-site services.

The report also makes recommendations regarding:

  • Reducing the stigma associated with accessing mental health services;
  • Reducing unnecessary emergency room admissions; and
  • Investing in behavioral intervention programs and services that improve school climate and increase connections to community-based supports.

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