Tier 1 Essentials: Building Your District’s Mental Health Continuum

  • Universal Mental Health Screening done at specified intervals (e.g., annually) to identify students who might need support that goes beyond Tier 1 instruction and activities.
  • School-Wide Programs and Presentations and the regular distribution of materials to increase mental health literacy and reduce the stigma of mental illness. Topics can include everything from suicide prevention and the effects of trauma and adverse childhood experiences (ACES), to recognizing the signs of depression, anxiety, ADHD, etc. and improving family relationships and self-regulation skills.
  • High quality Social-Emotional Learning (SEL) curricula that are appropriate for each grade level and are rigorously implemented. These curricula build and strengthen skills that are part of the foundation for good mental health and resilience.
  • Professional Learning and Ongoing Consultation for teachers and other school personnel that build their capacity to recognize the signs and symptoms of mental health disorders, to approach students from a trauma-informed perspective, and to craft a welcoming and supportive classroom/school culture; that develop skills for classroom-based wellness activities such as SEL and mindfulness instruction; that enhance self-awareness and self-care.
  • Professional Learning for School-Based Clinical Teams to foster critical thinking skills and creative solutions for high-risk students, and to build state-of-the-art, evidence-based intervention skills.
  • Parent/Caregiver Support Workshops for all families in the district to build mental health awareness and sensitivity, and to offer both practical and emotional support.
  • The adoption of Positive Discipline Practices that include, e.g., a schoolwide early warning system to identify students who are disconnected, disengaged, and/or are exhibiting risky or disruptive behaviors, the elimination of suspension in all but the most severe circumstances, etc.
  • Activities that Foster School Connection and a Positive School Climate for parents/caregivers, staff, school leaders, community providers and agencies, and the community-at-large.
  • The adoption of activities and practices that promote Teacher and Staff Well-Being.
  • Mental Health Needs Assessment and Planning Some school leadership teams have chosen to use the momentum of this watershed mental health moment by working with consultants to build internal capacity by strengthening their already existing MTSS continuum. This work entails completing a needs assessment of existing programming along the MTSS Framework in the hopes of developing a playbook for mental health service delivery for their district that focuses on processes and artifacts, areas of improvement and best-practice standards.

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