University of Missouri - Columbia.
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Posted 03.17.06

Grant to Fund Mental Health Service Collaboration with Moberly Schools

Collaboration Between Moberly School Dsitrict and MU May Lead to Changes for Entire State

COLUMBIA, Mo. -- Students of all ages increasingly experience mental health problems, including serious issues, such as depression, self-mutilation and suicide. The key for educators and mental health practitioners to prevent further damage to students' well-being is early identification of the problem. Now, through a competitive grant from the U.S. Department of Education, the University of Missouri-Columbia is collaborating with Moberly Public Schools and several area social service agencies to integrate mental health services for students. This model eventually may lead to changes in mental health services for students across the entire state.

Jim Koller.The 18-month, $309,116 grant, the only one of its kind awarded in Missouri, established the Moberly Community Coalition for Children and Families Project. The Coalition will build a more effective and comprehensive system for integrating mental health services for students in rural Moberly schools. The emphasis of the project will be on prevention and early identification of mental illness as well as the promotion of mental wellness. Collaborators plan to link a full continuum of services to meet student needs. The Coalition will build the capacity to improve mental health services for children from birth to age 21.

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"The project will bring together multiple social service agencies, university expertise, mental health and education authorities, and school and parent representatives in an effort to improve mental health services in Moberly," said Tim Roling, assistant superintendent of the Moberly Public Schools.

Housed in the department of Educational, School, and Counseling Psychology in the College of Education, the Center for Advancement of Mental Health Practices in the Schools (CAMPHS) is an active partner in the Moberly project on prevention and early intervention efforts.

"The CAMPHS partnership with Moberly to improve mental health services is unique in the nation and a natural extension of our proactive philosophy at MU," said Jim Koller, professor of educational, school and counseling psychology and director of the CAMHPS.

CAMPHS is involved in numerous projects to promote children's mental health in the state and across the country. Faculty and staff are engaged throughout Missouri with local education agencies, performing mental health consultation, providing professional development to schools in the area of mental health promotion, school mental health program research and evaluation, and school mental health policy development.

In addition, CAMPHS is involved in creating collaborative relationships with schools that are members of the MU Partnership for Educational Renewal. CAMHPS' most notable project to date is its national online degree program, developed in response to the increasing demands placed on teachers and other school-based personnel as a result of rising rates of mental illness and at-risk characteristics in the school-age population. This program addresses the mental health needs of all children and school personnel by providing individuals with evidence-based knowledge and strategies concerning prevention, early identification and intervention.

Koller noted that University Behavioral Health, part of University of Missouri Health Care and a community mental health provider in Moberly, will collaborate with the school system and CAMPHS to provide training, consultation and clinical services. Their use of telehealth enables the delivery of specialized mental health services to more rural areas that do not always have the best access to care.

The CAMPHS is supported by Rep. Judy Baker, a strong advocate for school-based mental health services for youth. This week, Baker is introducing a resolution to the House floor that will call for evidence-based university pre-service teacher education curricula that will train future educators in mental health services. Baker hopes the Moberly Coalition will become a model for implementation around other school districts in Missouri.

"One of the goals of this resolution is to raise awareness of the problems teachers and educators have with handling mental health problems in the classroom," Baker said. "However, through the efforts of MU and the Moberly School District, the state of Missouri has a tremendous opportunity to address the critical mental health issues of both student achievement and teacher retention."



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