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Supporting Mental Health in Schools

Healthy bodies and minds are the foundation of academic success. The Division of Health and Wellness leverages programming, partnerships, policy, and data to remove health barriers to learning so that people of all ages and backgrounds are prepared to succeed in school and in life.

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. This work thrives in partnership with LEAs (DC Project AWARE) and with the Department of Behavioral Health School Behavioral Health Program.

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 and behavioral health for students;
  • A catalogue of all professional development and training programs offered; and
  • Curriculum and implementation resources to support schools with implementing high-quality, multi-tiered mental health systems of support. 

Supporting Schools 

Schools are an ideal place to connect students with mental and behavioral health supports.  OSSE seeks to equip schools with the tools needed to ensure students and families have access to quality evidence-based supports and interventions.

Supporting Staff 

Supporting administrators, teachers, and other staff allows educators to show up for and enable student success. Ensuring staff feel equipped to identify and meet the needs of their students will support staff and student wellness and build a positive school culture that allows every member of the school community to thrive.

Mandatory Youth Behavioral Health Training for Administrators and Educators 

OSSE collaborates with the Department of Behavioral Health to monitor DC public and public charter school staff completion of the Support DC Youth behavioral health training. DBH provides this youth behavioral health training at www.supportdcyouth.com. District law mandates that all public and public charter school teachers and principals complete a behavioral health training once every two years (DC Law 14-56; DC Official Code § 7-1131.17(b)(1)). 

Professional development for Administrators, Educators, School Behavioral Health Providers, and Other Staff 

School leaders and behavioral health providers may email [email protected] for additional questions and support. 

Supporting Families 

Providing leadership opportunities, knowledge, and elevating family voice and partnership supports the promotion of family wellness and ensures family engagement, values, and voice are infused in a school-based system of care.

Community Support for Parents 

The Department of Behavioral Health offers a Parent Support Program to enhance the resilience of District families by providing coping tools and consultation services that help parents manage the stressors they are experiencing.  

To select a community based mental health provider that best meets you or your child’s needs, please call the Access HelpLine at 1-888-793-4357 and talk with a mental health professional who will guide you through the process.

Parents may also view the Behavioral Health Resource Link which contains information about available services and supports in the District, including housing, employment, legal services, and substance abuse treatment programs for young adults.