School-Based Mental Health Services and School Social Work
School-Based Mental Health Services (SBMHS) are therapy services provided at school buildings during the instructional day. These services are provided in partnership between HCPSS-employed licensed social workers and community mental health agencies approved to provide services in HCPSS.
SBMHS is not a replacement for the continuum of services provided by teachers and Student Services staff, nor is it in lieu of services that a student receives to meet their Individualized Education Program (IEP). Student service professionals employed by HCPSS are still responsible for working with students meeting the goals and objectives specified on a student’s IEP.
Determining Service Eligibility
Eligibility for SBMHS is determined by Student Support Teams (SST), which exist at each school and may consist of a school administrator, Pupil Personnel Worker (PPW), school counselor, school psychologist, school nurse, achievement liaisons, teachers, school social worker and other student services personnel.
SSTs meet on a regular basis to determine students’ needs and identify services and community or school-based interventions to support students’ academic and social-emotional functioning. After reviewing the services or interventions that are already in place for students, a SST may refer a student for SBMHS.
There are many reasons a SST may refer a student for SBMHS, including if the student is currently experiencing or has experienced:
- Barriers to accessing care outside of school
- Behavioral challenges
- Emotional challenges, including anxiety or more worries than other students
- Decline in school performance or grades
Learn about additional warning signs that may signal a need for SBMHS or other support services.
SSTs review the services or interventions that are already in place for a student. Pending that review, a SST may refer the student for SBMHS.
Parents/guardians complete consent forms
SBMHS are voluntary and parents/guardians must consent to have their student(s) receive them by completing the HCPSS consent and release of information forms.
Clinical intake assessment
A clinician from the assigned agency contacts the parent/guardian to schedule a clinical intake assessment, administered to the parent/guardian and the student.
Benefits of Service
SBMHS offer a wide range of benefits to students, families, and schools.
- Access to school-based mental health services and reduced time lost from school to access those services
- Enhanced communication among students, families, and schools
- Improved school performance and social emotional skills (problem solving, conflict resolution and decision-making)
- Crisis intervention support
- Assistance in locating community resources and services
- Enhanced working relationships between parents/guardians and the school staff
- Assistance accessing and utilizing school-based services or community resources by removing barriers to access (e.g. transportation, schedules, childcare, stigma, etc.)
- Reduced family stress, enabling the student to function more effectively in school & community
- Assistance understanding expectations for behavior and learning in the educational setting
- Advocacy tips/training/guidance
- Access to individual, group and family therapy
- Assistance with crisis intervention (including helping families cope with sudden changes or events that have an impact on student or family functioning)
- Provide and support school-based mental health services
- Attend Student Support Team (SST) Meetings
- Provide staff with essential information to better understand factors (cultural, societal, economic, familial, health, etc.) affecting a student’s performance and behavior.
- Collaborate with school teams to develop intervention plans to address the needs of students and families
- Implement school-wide programs or activities (parent workshops, bullying prevention, or mental health and wellness initiatives) to promote school success and emotional well-being
- Provide professional development to staff on trauma and mental health issues
- Collaborate with other school system departments and community organizations to decrease or remove barriers to student success
- Assist with crisis intervention
HCPSS-employed social workers provide direct services to five “hub” schools (where their offices are based) and indirect services to thirty “cluster” schools located in proximity to their “hub” schools. Direct services to “cluster” schools are provided by clinicians employed by local agencies with support and collaboration from HCPSS social workers and school staff. Clinicians from local agencies may also provide services in the “hub” schools as needed.
A list of schools at which SBMHS are offered is available online.
Note: Regardless of their school location, all students have access to school counselors and may receive referrals for outside services.
Partner agencies will bill a student’s insurance for all rendered services. HCPSS staff will verify insurance benefits, and the partner agency will review all projected fees with the parent/guardian prior to any services occurring.
Services are available at no cost for students who are uninsured or underinsured through grant funding, provided such funding is available.
For additional information about School Social Work Services, please contact:
- Kami Wagner, Coordinator of Student Support Programs, 410-313-7178
- Consuela Robinson, LCSW-C, Instructional Facilitator of Social Work Services, 410-313-7030
You may also contact the Office of Social Work by mail at:
Office of Student Support Services
Applications and Research Laboratory
10920 Clarksville Pike, Room C-6
Ellicott City, MD 21042