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Special Education

Emotional Impairment

As defined under federal law at 34 CFR §300.7, the student exhibits one or more of the following characteristics over a long period of time and to a marked degree that adversely affects educational performance: an inability to learn that cannot be explained by intellectual, sensory, or health factors; an inability to build or maintain satisfactory interpersonal relationships with peers and teachers; inappropriate types of behavior or feelings under normal circumstances; a general pervasive mood of unhappiness or depression; or a tendency to develop physical symptoms or fears associated with personal or school problems. The determination of disability shall not be made solely because the student's behavior violates the school's discipline code, because the student is involved with a state court or social service agency, or because the student is socially maladjusted, unless the Team determines that the student has a serious emotional disturbance.

Massachusetts Organizations/Resources

Massachusetts Department of Mental Health (DMH)
The Massachusetts Department of Mental Health (DMH) sets the standards for the operation of mental health facilities and community residential programs and provides clinical, rehabilitative and supportive services for adults with serious mental illness, and children and adolescents with serious mental illness or serious emotional disturbance.

Mental Health Services Programs for Youth (MHSPY)
The Massachusetts MHSPY Project is a collaboration among the state Division of Medical Assistance (DMA), the state Departments of Education (ESE), Mental Health (DMH), Social Services (DSS) and Youth Services (DYS), local school districts, and Harvard Pilgrim Health Care/Neighborhood Health Plan HMO. MHSPY aims to integrate medical, mental health, social support and non-traditional services for mentally ill children within a traditionally organized system of care.

Parent/Professional Advocacy League (PAL)
PAL is the statewide organization of the Federation of Families for Children's Mental Health. PAL advocates for supports, treatment and policies that enable families to live in their communities in an environment of stability and respect.

Worcester Communities of Care
Worcester Communities of Care provides wraparound services that embody a "whatever it takes" approach, providing families with a designated care manager and partner who identify and coordinate services that are youth-guided and family-driven.

National Organizations/Resources

American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP)
The AACAP provides information in an effort to promote an understanding of mental illness and remove the stigma associated with them, to advance efforts in prevention of mental illness, and to assure proper treatment and access to services for children and adolescents.

American Society for Adolescent Psychiatry (ASAP)
Focusing on teen, adolescence, and young adult issues, ASAP acts both as a professional network for its members and a specialized community dedicated to education development and advocacy of adolescents and the adolescent psychiatry field.

Council for Children with Behavioral Disorders (CCBD)
The Council for Children with Behavioral Disorders (CCBD) is the official division of the Council for Exceptional Children (CEC) committed to promoting and facilitating the education and general welfare of children and youth with emotional or behavioral disorders.

Federation of Families for Children's Mental Health (FFCMH)
The Federation of Families for Children's Mental Health is a national family-run organization dedicated to helping children with mental health needs and their families achieve a better quality of life. They work to help policy-makers, agencies, and providers become more effective in delivering services and supports that foster healthy emotional development for all children.

National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)
NAMI is a support and advocacy organization for individuals involved with sever mental illness. NAMI works to achieve equitable services and treatment for more than 15 million Americans living with sever mental illness and their families. They provide education and support, combat stigma, support increased funding for research and advocate for adequate health insurance, rehabilitation and jobs for people with mental illness and their families.

National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
The NIMH is the lead Federal agency for research on mental and behavioral disorders. Their mission is to reduce the burden of mental illness and behavioral disorders through research on mind, brain and behavior.

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
The Center for Mental Health Services at the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration leads Federal efforts to treat mental illnesses by promoting mental health and by preventing the development or worsening of mental illness when possible. Congress created CMHS to bring new hope to adults who have serious mental illnesses and to children with serious emotional disorders.

Technical Assistance Partnership for Child and Family Mental Health
The goal of the Technical Assistance Partnership for Child and Family Mental Health (Technical Assistance Partnership) is to support the "Comprehensive Community Mental Health Services for Children and their Families Program." This grant initiative of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Center for Mental Health Services funds communities in their efforts to successfully develop and implement local systems of care.

Last Updated: May 24, 2006

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

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


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