Houston Endowment Invests More Than $2 Million
to Establish The Center for School Behavioral Health
For Media Inquiries:
Traci Patterson, Director of Communications
HOUSTON, TX (March 22, 2016) –To help improve the behavioral health of students and their learning environments, Houston Endowment has awarded more than $2 million to Mental Health America of Greater Houston to establish The Center for School Behavioral Health at Mental Health America of Greater Houston.
“Good mental health and resilience are vital in equipping young people with the skills needed to fulfill their potential well into adulthood,” said Elizabeth G. Love, senior program officer at Houston Endowment. “Through this grant of more than $2 million, we are continuing our commitment to ensuring that youth and those who educate them have access to tools and services they need for the best behavioral health experience possible.”
The Center for School Behavioral Health at Mental Health America of Greater Houston is an expansion of the Harris County School Behavioral Health Initiative. This award, disbursed over three years, will enable The Center to engage schools and child-serving organizations from every municipality and county in the Greater Houston region. It is expected to increase the capacity for prevention, early identification, and treatment of behavioral health concerns among students and transform the landscape of school behavioral health in the Greater Houston region.
“Most schools in Harris County lack the resources and knowledge necessary to effectively identify and serve these students,” said Janet Pozmantier, director of The Center for School Behavioral Health at Mental Health America of Greater Houston. “This is especially critical when it comes to academic achievement: if students’ behavioral health needs are not addressed, they perform poorly or drop out of school which can have adverse effects on their lives well into adulthood.”
The National Institute of Mental Health reports the onset of half of all mental illnesses occurs by age 14 and a total of 75% of these illnesses begin by age 24. According to Texans Care for Children, nine out of 10 students classified as having an emotional disturbance in Texas public schools were suspended or expelled from school. And, while rates in teen suicide in Texas have gone down in recent years, suicide remains the third leading cause of death in young people aged 15-24 in Texas.
“Our schools are a crucial locus for effective behavioral health interventions,” said Susan Fordice, president and CEO of Mental Health America of Greater Houston. “Through The Center, we look forward to collaboratively developing, enhancing, or expanding systems to help improve behavioral health outcomes for all students.”
Using the Collective Impact model, The Center for School Behavioral Health at Mental Health America of Greater Houston will serve as a “living laboratory” for incubating innovative, cost-effective and replicable best practices to improve the behavioral health of students, while also providing highly specialized professional development opportunities, technical assistance and community education, stigma reduction and awareness, research, advocacy, and policy analysis.
The Center for School Behavioral Health will operate within Mental Health America of Greater Houston and encompass six major programmatic areas:
- The Harris County School Behavioral Health Initiative
- The School Behavioral Health Learning Community
- The School Behavioral Health Best Practice Incubator
- The Stigma Reduction Initiative
- The Texas School Behavioral Health Annual Conference
- School Behavioral Health Advocacy and Policy Analysis
“This is a big win in behavioral health for schools, students, families and communities,” said Fordice. “The work of the Center could potentially lead to change in education—the state’s largest system of care for children—changing the way behavioral health is accessed, understood and addressed in school districts in our region of Texas.”
Mental Health America of Greater Houston, established in 1954 by philanthropist, Ima Hogg, is the area’s longest serving mental health education and advocacy organization focused on shaping the mental health of people and communities in the areas of children and education, integrated health care, chronic illnesses, women, suicide prevention, veterans and aging. www.mhahouston.org