School Mental Health Initiative in Idaho
In October 2019, we co-sponsored not one, but two exciting events that engaged over 70 people from schools, districts, providers, and communities in Idaho with our partners at the Idaho Positive Behavior Network (IPBN) and Optum Idaho.
The first event was held on October 17th, 2019 and was a hands-on, full-day training for elementary, middle, and high school teams on PBIS and school mental health integration, also referred to as the Interconnected Systems Framework (ISF). The training was led by PBIS and school mental health experts Susan Barrett, a National PBIS TA Center Implementer Partner, and Jessica Swain-Bradway, the Executive Director at Northwest PBIS Network, who teamed up with the Northwest MHTTC staff at the University of Washington SMART Center to facilitate the event.
After an opening circle and introduction to ISF, participants worked within their school teams to review the Tier 1 items in the ISF Action Planning Companion Guide for the SWPBIS Tiered Fidelity Inventory (TFI). This tool complements the TFI and provides schools and districts with specific guidance on how to implement each TFI component with an integrated school mental health and ISF approach.
Teams assessed their level of implementation of each item and walked away with specific action items on how they can further promote school mental health in their buildings. Some of the next steps that teams walked away with included creating a safe space during lunch; bringing in more community resources; better monitoring students who might be escaping high anxiety situations to go to the office, restroom, school nurse, etc.; adding community members to their Tier 1 team; and expanding the teaching matrix to include social and emotional learning.
89% of participants completed a short survey at the end of the event evaluating their training experience. Out of those who completed the survey, 100% said that they would recommend the training to a colleague. They also indicated that the training had a high level of impact on their work, especially on their approach to addressing student needs. One participant shared, "I feel like I have a way to advocate for mental health in schools and know who to go to for resources."
Resource: PBIS Tiered Fidelity Inventory (TFI)
The second event was held on October 18th, 2019 and included community partners and school district stakeholders with the goal of strengthening collaborative efforts across Idaho to support mental health in schools. Participants were given an overview of ISF, discussed strengths and challenges in providing mental health supports in schools, and agreed to work towards continued collaboration. Participants included representatives from Blue Cross of Idaho, Boise School District, Boise State University, BPA Health, Flier School District, Homedale School District, Idaho Association of School Administrators, Idaho Federation of Families for Children's Mental Health, Marsing School District, Middle School District, IPBN, Optum Idaho, RK-12, SDE Idaho Lives Project, Twin Falls School District, and United Way of Treasure Valley.
A highlight from each day was the restorative circle that modeled a way for attendees to help promote mental health and foster positive climates through relationship development.
Dr. Katie Bubak-Azevedo, IPBN Director, shared that “School Mental Health is a topic of concern for every school district in Idaho. This partnership, between the UW SMART Center and the Idaho Positive Behavior Network, created the momentum needed to bring together the key stakeholders to begin the conversation of how best to support our students.”
The 5th Annual Idaho Positive Behavior Network Conference will provide an opportunity for both groups to come back together in February 2020 to follow up on their initial convenings. The school teams will review school mental health at Tier 2 and Tier 3 during the pre-conference on February 6, 2020 and the community partners will meet again with schools and districts to continue developing an action plan for collaboratively moving their work forward at a state level during the conference itself on February 7, 2020. The Northwest MHTTC will sponsor Susan Barrett's keynote at the conference as well as several sessions focused on school mental health.
We are thankful for our partners in Idaho and look forward to their continued success.
For more information about the Northwest MHTTC's school mental health supplement click here.