Publications

Bridging the Divide: In Search of Common Ground in Mental Health and Education Research and Policy

There is growing evidence that mental health and school functioning for children are intertwined. This article summarizes historical perspectives on U.S. child mental health policies and their interface with education and discusses trends in educational policy relevant to children's mental health, specifically the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act and No Child Left Behind. The traditional approach of mental health research in schools, which focuses on program and intervention development, has become stagnant. New paradigms are needed. These include attending to indigenous school resources, to the organizational context of learning, and to participatory models for constructing environments conducive to mental health promotion and learning. Persistent underfunding and fragmented fiscal support, however, render new approaches meaningless. If progress is to be made, new funding structures to support integrative educational and mental health practices are needed. (Psychiatric Services 60:1510-1515, 2009) There is growing evidence that mental health and school functioning for children are intertwined. This article summarizes historical perspectives on U.S. child mental health policies and their interface with education and discusses trends in educational policy relevant to children's mental health, specifically the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act and No Child Left Behind. The traditional approach of mental health research in schools, which focuses on program and intervention development, has become stagnant. New paradigms are needed. These include attending to indigenous school resources, to the organizational context of learning, and to participatory models for constructing environments conducive to mental health promotion and learning. Persistent underfunding and fragmented fiscal support, however, render new approaches meaningless. If progress is to be made, new funding structures to support integrative educational and mental health practices are needed.