New Resource to Support Mental Health in Schools

  • July 18, 2019
Young Girl Walking Into A Classroom With A Green Backpack On

Newly updated data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention paints a stark picture of young people’s mental health and substance misuse, including an alarming upward trend in suicide rates. These trends are especially worrisome for groups who are more likely to experience adversity or trauma, such as LGBTQ youth or migrant children impacted by traumatic family separation policies. Regular access to mental and physical health services in schools makes kids healthier, improves attendance and is associated with better academic outcomes, particularly for the most vulnerable students.

Unfortunately, building the systems — and finding the funding — to allow schools to offer these services can be challenging, especially for mental health services and programs to address substance use issues.

We are very excited to announce the publication of Guidance to States and School Systems on Addressing Mental Health and Substance Use Issues in Schools from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) that brings together resources from many sectors, creating a one-stop shop for state education agencies and school districts who are trying to expand school-based mental health and substance use services.

Educational and health care resources are always stretched thin, and the question of which resources can be used to support school-based mental and behavioral health services can be challenging, so we are especially pleased that this guidance specifically explains and highlights the role of Medicaid as a funding mechanism for school mental health services and substance use programs.

Helping states expand Medicaid funding for school health services by implementing a Medicaid policy change known as the free care rule reversal is a big part of our work with Trust for America’s Health and 15 state teams through the Healthy Students, Promising Futures learning collaborative (visit our new website to find out more!). Community Catalyst, Healthy Schools Campaign and Trust for America’s Health, recently released a brief detailing state level activity to expand Medicaid funding for school health services — and we’re constantly updating it as the momentum builds.

The CMS/SAMHSA bulletin underscores the key role Medicaid plays in funding states and schools to address mental health and substance use issues—and furthers our commitment to working with states to expand school-based Medicaid as a way to increase access to mental health services.

This blog was developed in partnership with our partner Community Catalyst. Check out their post here.