Fostering SMART partnerships to develop an effective continuum of behavioral health services and supports in schools

Eric J. Bruns, Mylien T. Duong, Aaron R. Lyon, Michael D. Pullmann, Clayton R. Cook, Douglas Cheney, Elizabeth McCauley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


The education sector offers compelling opportunities to address the shortcomings of traditional mental health delivery systems and to prevent and treat youth mental, emotional, and behavioral (MEB) problems. Recognizing that social and emotional wellness is intrinsically related to academic success, schools are moving to adopt multi-tier frameworks based on the public health model that provide a continuum of services to all children, including services to address both academic and MEB problems. In this article, we review the potential value of multi-tier frameworks in facilitating access to, and increasing the effectiveness of, mental health services in schools, and review the empirical support for school-based mental health interventions by tier. We go on to describe a community-academic partnership between the Seattle Public Schools and the University of Washington School Mental Health Assessment, Research, and Training (SMART) Center that exemplifies how multi-tier educational frameworks, research and evidence, and purposeful collaboration can combine to improve development and implementation of a range of school-based strategies focused on MEB needs of students. Finally, we present a set of 10 recommendations that may help guide other research and practice improvement efforts to address MEB problems in youth through effective school mental health programming.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)156-170
Number of pages15
JournalAmerican Journal of Orthopsychiatry
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 1 2016

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This publication was supported in part by funding from grant R305A120128 awarded by the Institute of Education Sciences and Grant K08 MH095939 awarded by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). We thank Seattle Public Schools, Public Health of Seattle-King County, and Seattle’s school mental health providers for fostering an effective research–practitioner partnership, and Ricki Mudd for help with manuscript preparation.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 American Orthopsychiatric Association.


  • Evidence-based practice
  • Prevention
  • Research partnerships
  • School mental health


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