As the month of May draws to a close in this unprecedented time of COVID-19, recognizing May as National Mental Health Awareness Month has taken on new significance. Organizations such as the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP) have long advocated for school-based mental health services to address the lack of access to mental health treatment in the United States for children and youth. In a 2016 blog, we provided a snapshot of the PreK to 12 school-based mental health research that the National Center for Education Research (NCER) had supported up to that point. With schools closed and uncertainty about when they will open, we are keeping an eye on these and more recent projects to see how IES-funded researchers and their school partners have addressed or are addressing mental health needs.
- Jason Downer (University of Virginia) developed the Learning to Objectively Observe Kids (LOOK) protocol to help prekindergarten teachers identify and understand children’s engagement in preschool and choose appropriate techniques to support children’s self-regulation skills.
- Golda Ginsburg (University of Connecticut) and Kelly Drake (Johns Hopkins University) developed the CALM (Child Anxiety Learning Modules) protocol for elementary school nurses to work with children who have excessive anxiety.
- Desiree Murray (University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill) is testing the Incredible Years Dina Dinosaur Treatment Program (IY-child) for helping early elementary school students with social-emotional and behavioral difficulties. This study is nearly complete, and findings will be available soon.
- Gregory Fabiano (SUNY-Buffalo) adapted the Coaching Our Acting Out Children: Heightening Essential Skills (COACHES) program for implementation in schools. This is a clinic-based program to help fathers of children with or at risk for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) get more involved and engaged in their child's school performance.
- Aaron Thompson (University of Missouri) is testing the Self-Monitoring Training and Regulation Strategy (STARS) intervention to see if it can improve behavior, social emotional learning skills, and academic performance for fifth grade students who engage in disruptive or otherwise challenging classroom behaviors. The pilot study of promise is currently in progress.
- Karen Bierman (Pennsylvania State University) is testing whether an intensive, individualized social skills training program, the Friendship Connections Program (FCP), can remediate the serious and chronic peer difficulties that 10–15 percent of elementary school students experience. Most of these students have or are at risk for emotional or behavioral disorders and exhibit social skill deficits (for example, poor communication skills, inability to resolve conflict) that alienate peers. This study is almost complete, and findings should be available soon.
- Linda Pfiffner (UC San Francisco) is completing development of a web-based professional development program for school mental health providers to gain the skills needed to implement evidence-based practices (EBPs) for student attention and behavior problems.
- Joshua Langberg (Virginia Commonwealth University) refined the HOPS (Homework, Organization, and Planning Skills) program for middle school counselors and psychologists to support students with ADHD who need help with organization and time management. Dr. Langberg recently completed an efficacy trial of HOPS. In 2019, an independent research team at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia received a grant to test the effectiveness of HOPS.
- William Pelham (Florida International University) and colleagues at SUNY Buffalo are testing the efficacy of adaptive, evidence-based classroom interventions (such as Tier 1 and Tier 2 interventions delivered through a Response to Intervention framework) for children with ADHD in a Sequential Multiple Assignment Randomized Trial (SMART) design framework.
- Thomas Power (Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia) is testing the efficacy of a school-based organizational skills training program (OST-S) for students in 3rd through 5th grade with deficits in organization, time management, and planning (OTMP), key executive function skills that support success in school.
- Desiree Murray (UNC Chapel Hill) is completing the development of a self-regulation intervention for middle school students. The intervention will adapt and integrate strategies from existing evidence-based practices that intentionally target self-regulatory processes that develop during early adolescence.
- Catherine Bradshaw (University of Virginia) is adapting the Early Adolescent Coping Power (EACP) to the rural school context. The Rural-EACP will address the cultural and contextual challenges of providing appropriate supports to help youth with aggressive behavior challenges in rural settings.
- Tamar Mendelsohn (Johns Hopkins University) is leading an evaluation of RAP Club, a prevention program intended to improve coping skills and academic outcomes in low-income urban middle school students.
- Margaret Sibley (Florida International University) developed the STRIPES (Students Taking Responsibility and Initiative through Peer-Enhanced Support) intervention to promote engagement with schools to improve behavioral and academic outcomes for high school students with ADHD.
- In 2016, Eric Bruns (University of Washington) and his colleagues received an efficacy grant to test the impact of the Brief Intervention for School Clinicians (BRISC), a school-based mental health intervention, on student outcomes. The BRISC allows school-based clinicians to quickly assess high school students’ needs, develop treatment strategies, and monitor progress.
- Jesse Suter (University of Vermont) is testing RENEW (Rehabilitation, Empowerment, Natural supports, Education and Work), an individualized intervention for high school students with emotional and behavioral challenges (EBC). This study is nearly complete, and findings will be available shortly.
- Shannon Suldo and Elizabeth Shaunessy-Dedrick (University of South Florida) are developing a prevention program to help high school students in Advanced Placement (AP) and International Baccalaureate (IB) classes manage the stress inherent in this type of accelerated coursework. This project applies findings from a recently completed IES Exploration study, Intrapersonal Factors Associated with Academic Success among High School Students in Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate (AP-IB) Programs. They are completing the pilot study of promise.
- Jami Young (Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia) is testing whether the Interpersonal Psychotherapy-Adolescent Skills Training (IPT-AST) Tier 2 depression prevention program is effective when implemented by school counselors.
- Sandra Chafouleas (University of Connecticut) identified current policies and national practice related to school-based behavioral assessment to determine whether current practice follows recommended best practice, and to develop policy recommendations for behavioral screening in schools.
Written by Emily Doolittle (Emilly.Doolittle@ed.gov), Team Lead for Social and Behavioral Research at IES, National Center for Education Research