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Student and Family Support (SFS)

Mental and Behavioral Health and Wellness Supports

The Behavioral and Mental Health team in the Office of Student and Family Support (SFS) works to help ensure that schools and districts build internal capacity to meet the social emotional and behavioral and mental health needs of their students, families and staff as well as develop their capacity to build partnerships with community-based providers.

News Headlines:

On August 10th, 2022, Governor Baker signed into law Chapter 177 of the Acts of 2022 (An Act Addressing Barriers to Care for Mental Health). This webpage provides a brief overview of the bill's K–12 education-related provisions that the DESE has a role in implementing. Please contact the Office of Student and Family Support with questions via . For additional information, you can also read How the Commonwealth's New Mental Health Act Impacts Schools provided by the Rennie Center (a DESE partner on several related initiatives).

Professional Development

Spotlight on Social Emotional Learning (SEL) and Mental Health Enhancing Systems of Student Support Professional Learning Communities (PLC):

The Department, is pleased to offer a series of professional learning communities (PLCs) that offer educators guidance and support on building comprehensive school mental health systems that address the holistic needs of students, in partnership with:

The full menu, schedule and registration information for the PLCs planned for school year 2023-2024 can be found at Spotlight on SEL MH.

Additional related PD offerings:

  • Lighthouse Wellness and Health Education Consulting, Inc, will offer a series of free professional learning opportunities for school and district personnel covering topics related to Cultivating Well-Being, Physical Education & Physical Activity, and Youth Mental Health First Aid.

  • Youth Mental Health First Aid: The Department has partnered with Walker Therapeutic & Educational Programs, Lighthouse Wellness and Health Education Consulting, Pinnacle Partnerships, and others to offer Youth Mental Health First Aid (YMHFA) training. The training helps teachers, other school staff, parents, and others who interact with youth to recognize and support students ages 6–18 who may be experiencing mental health or substance use challenges. The training also helps adults know how to refer students to mental health services. As everyone continues to navigate the impacts and challenges of the pandemic, it is likely that adults are seeing more students who report and show changes in mood as well as more intense feelings of anxiety and stress.

    Though school mental health professionals may find this training helpful, the intended audience is individuals without mental health training who work or interact with young people. School districts may request up to two free trainings for up to 60 members of their staff and community. Participating districts will also be eligible for technical assistance to develop follow-up systems and resources for integrating this training into multi-tiered systems for student support. Request sessions here.

  • Collaborative Improvement and Innovation Network (CoIIN): During school years 2020-2021 and 2021-2022 the Department, in partnership with the Massachusetts School Mental Health Consortium (MASMHC), engaged with selected districts in a learning collaborative facilitated by the National Center for School Mental Health. The initiative included professional development, technical assistance, and ongoing coaching to pilot practices to support the establishment of comprehensive school mental health systems. Participating Districts — Fiscal Year (FY) 2022: Agawam, Haverhill, King Phillip, Monomoy Regional & Waltham. FY2021: Belchertown, Berkshire Hills Regional, Boston Renaissance Charter Public, Burlington, New Bedford, and Randolph

Last Updated: January 25, 2024

Contact Us

Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
135 Santilli Highway, Everett, MA 02149

Voice: (781) 338-3000
TTY: (800) 439-2370


Disclaimer: A reference in this website to any specific commercial products, processes, or services, or the use of any trade, firm, or corporation name is for the information and convenience of the public and does not constitute endorsement or recommendation by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.