A center in the Milken Institute School of Public Health will help improve mental health resources for students at four D.C. elementary and middle schools.
The Center for Health and Health Care in Schools – part of the public health school – is partnering with the Bainum Family Foundation, a child poverty advocacy group, to provide mental health and universal prevention training to schools in Wards 7 and 8, according to a press release Tuesday.
The partners will serve four elementary and middle schools, including D.C. Scholars Public Charter School and Monument Academy Public Charter School. The initiative is part of a $4.1 million mental health initiative funded by the Bainum Family Foundation that was initially announced last fall.
The public health school will provide three years of training and technical assistance to the schools to help counselors and senior officials develop individual treatment and prevention programs, the release states.
Olga Acosta Price, the director of the CHHCS, said students in low-income areas of D.C. are often the most vulnerable to mental health issues because they encounter both poverty-related stress and low availability of clinics and practitioners nearby. She said mental health resources currently available in the District mostly focus on treating high-need children instead of identifying and preventing mental health issues at a young age.
“We will help the partner schools adopt the most effective practices known in the field, build their capacity to serve more children and families, and increase the likelihood that these school-based mental health supports will be sustained over time,” Acosta Price said in the release.
Barbara Bainum, the CEO and president of the Bainum Family Foundation, said the partnership is a “crucial demonstration project” that will help organizers understand which methods and practices are the most effective in supporting mental health programs in elementary and middle schools. She said the information collected from the program will be shared with teachers and mental health professionals to evaluate how the findings can be integrated in other schools.
“In order for children to thrive and to succeed in both school and life, it’s critical to address their social and emotional needs along with their cognitive and physical development,” she said in the release.