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.

Featured Resource:

Promoting Student Engagement, Learning, Wellbeing and Safety — School Year 2021-2022 (Released Summer 2021) : (Power Point slides / eLearning Module) The Department is providing this document to support district efforts to promote the wellbeing of students families and school staff. This document includes guidance previously released by DESE, as well as new and updated resources to help districts develop, strengthen, and implement comprehensive systems for engaging with students and their families, connecting students and families with additional supports they may need, and promoting student safety. This document also includes racial equity and cultural responsiveness considerations to support districts in ensuring the wellbeing of all our students.


Professional Development

  • The Department, is pleased to offer, in partnership with:
    • Lighthouse Wellness and Health Education Consulting, Inc, a series of free professional learning opportunities for school and district personnel covering topics related to Cultivating Well-Being, Physical Education & Physical Activity, Sexual Health and Sex Education, and Youth Mental Health First Aid.
    • The Rennie Center, Bridge for Resilient Youth in Transition (BRYT), and MASMHC, Thriving Minds, a series of learning opportunities that offer educators guidance and support on building comprehensive school mental health systems that address the holistic needs of students.
    • Walker Therapeutic & Educational Programs, a series of learning opportunities that offer educators, school leaders and SEL/mental health staff guidance and support on building comprehensive school mental health systems that address the holistic needs of students.

  • 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) Opportunity: The Department, in partnership with the Massachusetts School Mental Health Consortium (MASMHC), is engaged with selected districts in a learning collaborative facilitated by the National Center for School Mental Health. The initiative includes 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

Department Resources

  • Supporting Students' Social Emotional Learning, Behavioral & Mental Health, and Wellness Grant — The SEL/ MH grant is funded through state line items and with additional federal funding from the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Funds (ESSER). This grant program was funded in fiscal year 2022 and supports Massachusetts public school districts and communities to adapt, expand, or strengthen multi-tiered systems of support to respond to the social-emotional and behavioral health needs of students, families, and educators and to build strong partnerships with community-based mental health agencies and/or providers. In FY2022, seventy-three (73) school districts and collaboratives were awarded this grant and are eligible for continued funding pending appropriation in FY2023 and FY2024.

    This grant aims to build capacity of school districts, charter schools, and educational collaboratives to do the following:

    • develop comprehensive, integrated multi-tiered systems for student, family, and educator social-emotional and/or mental health supports; and
    • build sustainable infrastructure to facilitate integrated coordination between school students, family, and community-based services and/or providers.

    This grant is not currently open for new applicants.

  • Holistic Support and Enrichment, SEL, Health and Safety Newsletter — The Department periodically shares updates and offerings related to holistic supports and enrichment, including efforts to help strengthen social emotional competencies, health, and safety. You can sign-up & see past issues for this and other Department newsletters.

  • Family Engagement — The primary goal of family engagement is to facilitate shared responsibility that contributes to the healthy development, learning, and growth of children - from the earliest ages into young adulthood. Family engagement builds relationships between students, families, educators, and the community. These relationships over time develop into meaningful partnerships rooted in the strengths and assets of all.

  • Multi-Tiered Systems of Support (MTSS) — A Multi-Tiered Systems of Support (MTSS) is a framework for how school districts can build the necessary systems to ensure that each and every student receives a high-quality educational experience. It is designed to support schools with proactively identifying and addressing the strengths and needs of all students by optimizing data-driven decision-making, progress monitoring, and the use of evidence-based supports and strategies with increasing intensity to sustain student growth. In 2018, Massachusetts updated its MTSS Blueprint to reflect the most current research and enhance the user experience. For example, the current blueprint more explicitly focuses on equitable access and universal design for learning (UDL) and fully integrates social emotional, behavioral, and academic learning.

  • MA Tools for Schools is a clearinghouse from the Department of resources to support sustainable school improvement in Massachusetts.

Other State Resources

National Resources

Contact

Chris Pond , Behavioral Health and Mental Health Specialist

Last Updated: May 12, 2022

 
Contact Us

Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
75 Pleasant Street, Malden, MA 02148-4906

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

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