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Supporting Mental Health in Schools

OSSE supports schools in being places where student mental and behavioral health is addressed and staff have the tools to recognize the warning signs and risk factors of youth mental health crisis, including suicide, and to implement best practices for suicide prevention, intervention, and post-vention.

OSSE is pleased to offer the following tools:

  • Written guidance to assist local education agencies in developing and adopting policies and procedures for handling aspects of mental health for students;
  • A catalogue of all professional development and training programs offered; and
  • A report on the results of a preliminary school climate survey tool, which will be considered in OSSE’s long term plan in further supporting school climate across the District.

In addition to these resources, please see this link for the Department of Behavioral Health’s online mental health training: http://www.supportdcyouth.com/.

Local Programs and Service Providers | Creating Safe and Supportive School Environments

Local Programs and Service Providers

The table below identifies essential local programs and services available to schools that support student, staff, and family safety, mental wellness, and crisis stabilization.

DC Department of Behavioral Health (DBH) School Mental Health Program (SMHP)

DBH operates a school-based program in public and public charter schools that offers prevention, early intervention, and clinical services to youth and their families. Behavioral health clinicians in public schools work within existing support services in the schools to help create a safer and more supportive school climate and provide professional development to school staff.


Website: https://dbh.dc.gov/service/school-behavioral-health-program

School Mental Health Program School Listing

Address: 64 New York Ave. NE
Washington, DC 20002
Phone: (202) 698-2391

DBH Access HelpLine

The Access HelpLine is a 24-hour, seven-day-a-week telephone line staffed by behavioral health professionals who can refer a caller to immediate help or ongoing care. The Access HelpLine can activate mobile crisis teams to respond to adults and children who are experiencing a psychiatric or emotional crisis and are unable or unwilling to travel to receive behavioral health services. Call the Access HelpLine to get emergency psychiatric care, help with problem solving, and to determine whether to seek ongoing mental health services or other types of services, and/or find out what services are available.

Website: https://dbh.dc.gov/service/access-helpline

Certified Behavioral Healthcare Providers

Address: 64 New York Ave. NE
Washington, DC 20002
Phone: 1 (888) 793-4357
Phone: 1 (888) 7WE-HELP

Community Resources for Additional Mental Health Services

DBH ensures that high-quality mental health services are available through the public behavioral health system to District residents through a rigorous certification program conducted by the Accountability Administration. DBH certifies a provider to deliver services that support individual recovery with qualified, culturally competent staff in a safe facility. Services include diagnostic assessment, medication, counseling, and community support. All providers must comply with local and federal rules and regulations, and be located in the District. Residents can choose a provider that best serves their needs from the list found on the DBH website or by calling or visiting a provider.

Website: http://dbh.dc.gov/page/list-community-based-service-providers

Address: 64 New York Ave. NE
Washington, DC 20002
Phone: (202) 698-2391


DC Department of Human Services (DHS) Youth HOPE

Youth HOPE stabilization and reunification program works to divert youth from the homeless shelter system, to strengthen and stabilize family relationships and reunite youth with their families or other identified social supports that promotes safe and stable living conditions. The program also helps families identify resources in the community and assists youth with identifying alternative housing options.

Website: https://dhs.dc.gov/page/youth-housing-options-and-prevention-education-hope


64 New York Ave. NE, Fifth Floor
Washington, DC 20002
Phone: (202) 531-8419
Fax: (202) 671-4326
Email: [email protected]

Parent and Adolescent Support (PASS)

Parent and Adolescent Support Services (PASS) serves District of Columbia families of youth who are committing status offenses. Status offenses include truancy, running away, curfew violations and extreme disobedience, among other behaviors that are illegal for young people under the age of 18. PASS works cooperatively with families and service providers to reduce these challenging behaviors before child welfare and/or juvenile justice intervention is needed.

Youth may be referred to PASS by city agencies, schools, service providers, and concerned family members.

Website: https://dhs.dc.gov/service/parent-and-adolescent-support-pass


64 New York Ave. NE, Fifth Floor
Washington, DC 20002
Phone: (202) 698-4334
Fax: (202) 671-4326

Teen Parent Assessment Program (TPAP)

Teen Parent Assessment Program (TPAP) works in partnership with the Economic Security Administration (ESA) to promote teen parents with self-sufficiency through attainment of education, day care vouchers, educational programs, vocational training, higher education supports, parenting skills, behavioral and physical health services, housing stability, family mediation, safe sex education, etc.

Website: https://dhs.dc.gov/page/teen-parent-assessment-program-tpap

64 New York Ave. NE, Fifth Floor
Washington, DC 20002
Phone: (202) 698-4334
Fax: (202) 671-4326

MPD Youth and Family Services Division    
The Metropolitan Police Department, Youth and Family Services Division (YFSD), is responsible for the following:
  • Investigating Child Abuse and Neglect
  • Investigating Child Sexual Abuse & Exploitation (including child pornography and child prostitution)
  • Investigating Juvenile Missing Persons (under the age of 18 years) & Parental Kidnapping
  • Investigating Persons In Need of Supervision (PINS)
  • Juvenile Processing Center (process juvenile arrestees)
  • Absconder Unit (locate youth in abscondence)
  • Investigating Internet Crimes Against Children Unit
Website: https://mpdc.dc.gov/page/youth-and-family-services-division 5002 Hayes St. NE
Washington, DC 20019
(202) 576-6768 (phone)
(202) 576-6561 (fax)


National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC)

Team HOPE's trained volunteers:

  • Help families in crisis with a missing, sexually exploited or recovered child as they handle the day-to-day issues of coping and/or searching for their child.
  • Help provide peer support, emotional support, compassion, coping tools, empowerment and resources to families with missing, sexually exploited and recovered children.
  • Help instill courage, determination and hope in parents and other family members.
  • Help alleviate the isolation so often resulting from fear and frustration.
  • Remain honest, trustworthy, nondiscriminatory and fair.
  • Respect the privacy of those with whom they are working.

Website: http://www.missingkids.com/ourwork/teamhope


1-866-305-HOPE (4673)
Don’t wait to report child sexual exploitation or a missing child.
First: Call the Metropolitan Police Department.
Then: Call NCMEC at 1-800-THE-LOST (1-800-843-5678).


Wendt Center for Loss and Healing

The Wendt Center for Loss and Healing serves the Greater Washington area and seeks to help people rebuild a sense of safety and hope after experiencing a loss, life-threatening illness, violence, or other trauma. The Wendt Center offers expertise in grief, loss, and trauma, for children, teens, adults, families, and local communities. The Wendt Center is paneled with all of the major private insurance plans and all of the public insurance plans including DC Medicaid and Medicare.  Many of the Wendt Center services are also free through various grant funding.

Website: http://www.wendtcenter.org/

Address: 4201 Connecticut Ave. NW, Suite 300
Washington, DC 20008
Phone: (202) 624-0010

Creating Safe and Supportive School Environments

Schools that create safe and supportive environments, encourage social and cognitive skills training, embrace diversity and respect, and maintain strong communication with families and community partners are better positioned to prevent and respond to a school crisis. The resources listed below are available to train staff to recognize and respond to warning signs, develop crisis prevention and response protocols, support students’ social, emotional, and behavioral development, and promote positive school climate.

Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE) Mental Health Guidelines

OSSE’s Mental Health Guidelines provide a framework for strengthening mental and behavioral health procedures, including a crisis team, at your school. Also in this guide are local and national resources to support your school’s development of mental health policies that support prevention and intervention. 



Mental Health Guidelines



1050 First St. NE
Washington, DC 20002
Phone: (202) 727-6436
TTY: 711
Email: [email protected]

DC Youth Risk Behavior Data

The Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) is a survey of health-risk behaviors conducted in middle and high schools every two years in DC and throughout the United States. The YRBS covers six topic areas including: behaviors that contribute to unintentional injuries and violence; tobacco use; alcohol and other drug use; sexual risk behaviors; unhealthy dietary behaviors; and physical inactivity. For more information, please contact the OSSE Division of Health and Wellness.



Website: https://osse.dc.gov/service/dc-youth-risk-behavior-survey-yrbs

2017 DC YRBS Report

2017 DC YRBS Data Files

Aimee McLaughlin
Manager, Data and Strategic Initiatives
Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE)
1050 First St. NE, Sixth Floor
Washington, DC 20002
Desk: (202) 741-6481

Nonviolent Crisis Prevention

Through initial collaboration with the District of Columbia Department of Behavioral Health (DBH), OSSE trains LEAs in nonviolent crisis intervention using the evidence-based model developed by the Crisis Prevention Institute (CPI). The model provides stakeholders with a proven framework for decision-making and problem-solving to prevent and, to the extent possible, de-escalate a person in behavioral crisis. Through the use of the model, all participants who attended OSSE’s nonviolent crisis prevention training were provided the skills and strategies needed to safely manage assaultive and disruptive behavior. Objectives of the training included:

  • Recognizing behaviors that may be exhibited by an individual in behavioral crisis
  • Understanding and applying de-escalation techniques
  • Gaining the tools needed to support individuals before, during and after a crisis
  • Understanding the use of positive behavioral interventions and supports (PBIS)
  • Understanding the principles of nonviolent crisis intervention in school settings

Website: https://osse.dc.gov/node/1234666

Katie Reda
Special Programs Manager
Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE)
1050 First St. NE, Fifth Floor
Washington, DC 20002
Phone: (202) 481-3926


Department of Behavioral Health  Behavioral Health Training for Teachers and Principals

District law mandates that all public and public charter school teachers, principals, and staff employed by child care providers complete a behavioral health training once every two years (D.C. Law 14-56; DC Official Code § 7-1131.17(b)(1)).

DBH provides this free training online. Teachers and principals must complete the following three courses once every two years to be compliant with this law:

  • At-Risk (at the appropriate grade level: elementary, middle, or high school)
  • Completion time: approximately 60 minutes
  • Referral Process
  • Completion time: approximately 8 minutes
  • Suicide Postvention
  • Completion time: approximately 45 minutes 

Website: http://www.supportdcyouth.com/

Address: 64 New York Ave. NE
Washington, DC 20002
Phone: (202) 698-2391


Deputy Mayor for Education State Board of Education Safe Passage to School

The safe passage for our students, as they travel to and from school, is of the utmost importance to us all. The School Safety and Safe Passage Working Group is tasked with addressing District student and school safety concerns, especially as students arrive and depart from school.


Website: https://dme.dc.gov/safepassage

Website: https://sboe.dc.gov/page/safe-passage

Safe Passage Toolkit

Safe Passage Social Media Campaign

Office of the Deputy Mayor for Education
1350 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Suite 307
Washington, DC 20004
Phone: (202) 727-3636
Fax: (202) 727-8198
TTY: (776) 777-7776
Email: [email protected]

State Board of Education
One Judiciary Square
441 Fourth St. NW, 530S
Washington, DC 20001
Phone: (202) 741-0888
Fax: (202) 741-0879
TTY: 711
Email: [email protected]


DC Emergency and Safety Alliance (ESA)

In keeping with the “One City, One Plan” concept, the following DC Emergency and Safety Alliance (ESA) resources are available to aid in developing an individualized emergency response plan for your school.

  • The ESA Application
  • School Emergency Response Plan and Management Guide
  • Universal Emergency Response Procedures
  • Emergency Response Protocols
  • Recovery
  • Prevention
  • Reporting Forms

Website: https://esa.dc.gov/page/school-guides-and-protocols

2000 14th St. NW, Fifth Floor
Washington, DC 20009
Phone: (202) 576-8962
Fax: (202) 481-3475
TTY: (202) 724-4400