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Site Review: Center for Mental Health in Schools

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Content:  A product of the School Mental Health Project at University of California Los Angeles, this site contains volumes of information on theory, research, practice and training related to addressing student mental health and psychosocial concerns through school-based interventions. The Center—led by researchers Howard Adelman and Linda Taylor—laments the lack of comprehensive mapping of the resources used for efforts relevant to mental health in schools, and the site is an attempt to provide a "big picture" analysis so that policymakers and practitioners can enhance system effectiveness.

Referencing the “full-service schools” model, a document titled “Mental Health in Schools: An Overview” explains that systemic changes must weave school-owned resources and community-owned resources together to develop comprehensive, multifaceted, and integrated approaches for addressing barriers to learning and enhancing healthy development. Schools that have implemented a Student Assistance Program, or that have used the Response to Intervention or Positive Behavioral Supports and Interventions frameworks, will find the Center’s philosophy quite consistent with these approaches.

Design:  The site is definitely not pretty, but what it lacks in style it more than makes up for in substance. Small clickable graphics on the homepage lead to content areas, such as the handy “Ideas for Enhancing Support at Your School” (a month-by-month guide to themes—such as end-of-year celebrations—that can support students’ changing needs throughout the school year). In the left navigation list, the Resources and Publications link serves as a portal to monographs, chapters, journal articles and other documents.

The site offers a “First Visit? Click Here” button as well a site map, but these guides can be overwhelming due to the volume of information presented. A related drawback is the fact that many of these different content areas share the same URL, making it difficult for users to bookmark areas, or even find them upon a return visit to the site.

Review:  Users would do well to set aside some time to visit this site, as it’s easy to get lost in the number of items housed here. Likewise, some visitors may be put off by the length of the resources, which require significant time to sift through. For example, a “Quick Training Aid” on addressing barriers to learning clocks in at 99 pages. The site’s resources tend to be extremely heavy on theory, so users expecting quick checklists will be disappointed.

That said, users will no doubt appreciate the huge library of items, many of which are available for free (although in many cases, users won’t be able to tell this until they actually click on a link).

Bottom Line:  For administrators who want to do an in-depth “bird’s-eye view” analysis of every type of student support offered in their schools, Center for Mental Health in Schools offers a very extensive collection of lengthy resources. If users are patient enough to wade through a lot of theory-heavy content, there is much to be gained from this site.


Article by Celine Provini, EducationWorld Editor
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