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The NCSMH monitors federal and state policy and works with federal and state leaders to shape policies that will advance high quality school mental health for America’s youth.

School Mental Health Policy Map

The School Mental Health Policy Map, featured on the School Health Assessment and Performance Evaluation (SHAPE) System, displays and links to key state-level policies and information related to school mental health. Decision makers, state and local leaders, and school mental health stakeholders can use this map to better understand the school mental health landscape in their state and across the country. Example categories include mental health literacy, funding, and social emotional learning.

A map of the United States where each state has either a green box or orange circle on it, indicating the presence or absence of a policy.

The State School Mental Health Profile

The State School Mental Health Profile, developed by the National Center for School Mental Health, helps states assess several state-level school mental health indicators, including infrastructure, technical assistance and training, state policies, financing, staffing, and emerging school mental health issues. The State Profile also includes a strategic planning guide, which includes questions that are designed to prompt further discussion about how to advance and sustain school mental health at the state-level. The State Profile can be completed on the School Health Assessment and Performance Evaluation (SHAPE) System in a state account. Please see a printable version of the Profile

NCSMH Policy Collaborations

The NCSMH has collaborated with or provided guidance to several organizations and federal agencies to inform school mental health policy and practice.

Hopeful Futures Campaign

The Hopeful Futures Campaign is a coalition of diverse organizations, including the National Center for School Mental Health, that are committed to bringing comprehensive school mental health systems to every school in the country so that every child can thrive. The Hopeful Futures Campaign is active in driving both state and federal legislation and regulations that promote the coverage and delivery of effective school mental health services and that support healthy school climates.

The Hopeful Futures Campaign issued the first-ever state-specific report cards that examine state policies that support school mental health. The report cards provide an easy-to-understand snapshot of school mental health policy in each state. The policies fall into eight categories—school mental health professionals; school–family–community partnerships; teacher and staff training; funding supports; well-being checks; healthy school climate; skills for life success; and mental health education. The report card gives a “score” for each state in each category.

This guide is intended for state legislators and staff who want to advance school mental health policy. It includes examples of state legislation and, in some cases, model legislation that falls into eight categories—school mental health professionals, school–family–community partnerships, teacher and staff training, funding supports, wellbeing checks, healthy school climate, skills for life success, and mental health education.

Council of Chief State School Officers

This brief guide was created to support school districts to use ESSR funds for sustainable school mental health supports via expanding school-based Medicaid programs.

In collaboration with the National Center for School Mental Health, the Council of Chief State School Officers developed Advancing Comprehensive School Mental Health Systems: A Guide for State Education Agencies. The guide highlights the role that state education agencies can play to advance comprehensive school mental health systems. It several state examples and focuses on five key steps:

  • Establish a statewide strategy and framework that focuses on supporting students’ academic development and student and staff wellbeing and connection, including mental health.
  • Form strong, diverse partnerships to develop and implement the strategy.
  • Take an asset-based approach that focuses on strengths and values diversity in race, culture, language, ability and thought.
  • Align efforts with existing efforts and COVID recovery.
  • Prioritize capacity-building at the local level to advance CSMHS.

The Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO) and the CDC Healthy Schools Branch convened a School Behavioral Health Advisory Committee, including the National Center for School Mental Health, to identify policy gaps and strategies for delivering behavioral health services in schools. The committee meetings resulted in the development of Improving Youth Behavioral Health Through School-Based Strategies. The document outlines several state-level examples of advancing four key areas of school mental health:

  • Develop shared communication and vision
  • Enhance cross sector partnerships
  • Use data driven action
  • Implement innovative policies to improve access to services

The US Department of Education
published Supporting Child and Student Social, Emotional, Behavioral, and Mental Health Needs. This resource highlights seven key challenges to providing school- or program-based mental health support across early childhood, K–12 schools, and higher education settings, and presents seven corresponding recommendations. In particular, the document identifies key funding and policy gaps in school mental health and offers recommendations and potential action steps for expanding funding, lowering costs for providing mental health care, sharing success stories with policymakers, and implementing policy to support effective social, emotional and behavioral practices.

The US Office of the Surgeon General
published Protecting Youth Mental Health: The US Surgeon General's Advisory. This Advisory offers recommendations for supporting the mental health of children, adolescents, and young adults. While some of the recommendations apply to individuals, the focus of the Advisory is on institutions, including schools.

Advocacy Resources

With funding from the Bainum Family Foundation, the National Center for School Mental Health partnered with several organizations to develop advocacy tools to support the uptake and implementation of comprehensive school mental health systems.

Effective School-Community Partnerships to Support School Mental Health, developed in partnership with the National Association of School Psychologists, describes the key elements of effective school-community partnerships to support student mental health. NASP also developed a corresponding infographic. These documents aim to educate stakeholders about:

  • Key elements of effective school community partnerships to support student mental health
  • The importance of school employed mental health professionals (e.g., school psychologists, school counselors, school social workers) and community partners in providing comprehensive school mental health services
  • The complementary roles of mental health professionals across school and community settings
  • Specific action steps interested they can take to advance comprehensive school mental and behavioral health systems.

The target audience included school administrators, school board members, and other stakeholders invested in improving comprehensive school mental health service delivery systems.

The Family Run Executive Director Leadership Association (FREDLA), in collaboration with the National Center for School Mental Health, developed two tip sheets on the importance of comprehensive school mental health. One tip sheet is for decision-makers and the other one is for family members. FREDLA also adapted the National Center for School Mental Health Action Alert to target family members.

The materials were designed to educate family organizations on comprehensive school mental health systems; to inform families and advocate with decision makers in their communities and schools; and to disseminate information to family-run organizations across the country. The target audience was family-run organizations across the country who can mobilize families to advocate for comprehensive school mental health.

Youth Move National developed a webpage, Advancing School Mental Health, A Youth MOVE Project, designed to disseminate information to youth advocates about four key policy areas: mental health curriculum for students, mental health literacy training for school staff, mental health services and programs, and restorative justice.

The target audience for the resource webpage is youth and young adults who are interested in becoming a school mental health champion or are already doing advocacy for advancing school mental health at all levels.

Newsletter and Listserv

The NCSMH newsletter archive includes a section for Policy Announcements that covers updates, briefs, resources, and conferences.