School Behavioral Health Initiative (SBHI)


What is the Harris County School Behavioral Health Initiative?

The Harris County School Behavioral Health Initiative (SBHI) is a collaborative* of school district administrators, behavioral health providers, child-serving and education-related agencies, and parents dedicated to improving the prevention, identification, and treatment of behavioral health issues among students.   

  • About half of lifetime cases of mental illness begin by the age of 14. Youth with mental and behavioral health issues may experience challenges such as academic underachievement, criminal justice involvement and even suicide.

  • More than 152,000 children in Harris County are living with mental illness.  Early identification and treatment of mental health disorders in youth is critical, but most children go undiagnosed until a crisis occurs, which can severely compromise their long-term ability to achieve a healthy and successful life.

  • Schools struggle to meet the behavioral health needs of their studentsCounselors face difficulties providing appropriate levels of mental health services to students; teachers lack experience in recognizing early signs of mental health issues and oftentimes cannot identify available services in the community; and financial restraints keep many schools from adequately meeting the needs of students with mental health problems who are not eligible for services under federal law.

  • Clearly, waiting until children are in crisis and need to be hospitalized or incarcerated is not an economical or effective solution to this problem.  Successful, evidence-based prevention, early intervention, and treatment programs can literally save children’s lives. 


More About the Harris County

School Behavioral Health Initiative (SBHI)


Program Contacts

Janet Pozmantier - Director, The Center for School Behavioral Health at MHA of Greater Houston