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The Implementation of Mental Health Policies and Practices in Schools: An Examination of School and State Factors

11 Feb 2019



Poor mental health outcomes persist among adolescent youth. Secondary schools play a critical role in fostering positive mental health by implementing policies and practices grounded in evidence. The factors associated with implementation, however, are unclear. This study examines which school‐ and state‐level factors are associated with improved implementation of mental health policies and practices at secondary schools across the United States.


US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data stemming from 3 datasets (School Health Policies and Practices, School Health Profiles, and Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System) surveys were integrated and analyzed.


Health educator certification, school use of data during school improvement planning, presence of a health/safety coordinator, presence of a health council and state‐provided health educator professional development in mental health and suicide prevention were each significantly positively associated with schools' implementation of mental health policies and practices.


To promote improved implementation of mental health policies and practices in schools and provide better support for youth mental health outcomes, the use of certified health educators and health‐related supports should be considered. State health and education agencies should undertake evaluations of its mental health practices to ensure the assistance they offer to schools is evidence based.

Click here to view the full article which appeared in Journal of School Health