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School & Health: Our Nation's Investment
The teams work closely with School Support Teams, which make sure that interventions are actually carried out in the classroom, with families, and with individual students. The center organizes prevention groups in such areas as social skills, divorced families, grief issues, and anger control. In 1992–1993, the teams provided more than 9,000 hours of treatment to students and their families and 7,500 hours of consultation.
The Mental Health Center also takes responsibility for implementing drug abuse prevention, including training teachers in a K–12 curriculum. MCSMHC counselors are assigned to the schools and coordinate the programs, including Student Leadership Training, Just Say No clubs, and Parent to Parent Training. The mental health staff train school teams to work with community groups to address neighborhood issues. A Student Assistance Program specially trains teachers to identify high-risk students. School students suspended for a drug incident are required to attend nine sessions as part of an Early Intervention Group, a requirement that has resulted in a decline in school problems.
The center's most recent initiatives have sought to reduce conflict and violence. Its staff members have organized prevention groups in conflict resolution, using officers from the Memphis police department as co-facilitators. One school is involved in a firearms eradication program. Students and their parents who have received firearms suspensions are seen by a center psychologist and receive more in-depth services if appropriate. One mental health team is located at the Adolescent Parenting Program and works on this issue throughout the school system. Counseling is available, and workshops are offered on stress management, personal goal setting, and African-American issues. MCSMHC also offers services for abused and neglected children, including a Homemaker Program for families that have experienced abuse problems.
An exemplary school-based mental health program was initiated in New Brunswick, New Jersey, in 1988, funded by the New Jersey School-Based Youth Services Program (Reynolds, personal communication). It is operated in the high school and five elementary schools by the local Community Mental Health Center of the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey. Grantees of the New Jersey School-Based Youth Services Program receive $250,000 to $400,000 per year through the state's Department of Human Resources. The New Brunswick program is funded at the higher end because it covers more than one school. The program has ten full-time core staff members, including eight clinicians (psychologists and social workers), one of whom serves as the director. Staff members conduct individual, group, and family therapy and serve as consultants to school personnel and other agencies involved with adolescents. An activities or outreach worker plans and supervises recreational activities and contacts at the high school. Specialized part-time staff include a preg-