Early Mental Health Intervention

Studies around the country prove that we can prevent or mitigate the effects of mental illness with early intervention that allows individuals to live fulfilling, productive lives. From the influence of genetics and prenatal health all the way through adolescence and into early adulthood, we are learning more about the critical points in brain development and life experiences that increase the risk for or provide protection against the development of mental health disorders.

Mental Health America

The Back to School Toolkit aims to increase emotional intelligence and self-regulation through materials for parents, school personnel, and students. The Prevention and Early Intervention page includes information on genetics and brain development, risk and protective factors, statistics, fact sheets on prevention and early intervention, links to programs, strategies, research and Webinar recordings.  

Incredible Years
Incredible Years is a set of three interlocking, comprehensive, and developmentally based training programs for children and their parents and teachers. These programs are guided by developmental theory on the role of multiple interacting risk and protective factors in the development of conduct problems. The teacher training program is delivered to early childhood and elementary school teachers of young children (3-8 years) and consists of 42 hours (6 days) of monthly workshops delivered by a trained facilitator. The program focuses on strengthening teachers' classroom management strategies; promoting children's prosocial behavior, emotional self-regulation, and school readiness; and reducing children's classroom aggression and noncooperation with peers and teachers. The training also helps teachers collaborate with parents to support parents' school involvement and promote consistency between home and school.

National Child Traumatic Stress Network*

The National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN) offers a number of resources for educators and other school personnel on child trauma.  The Child Trauma Toolkit for Educators was developed to provide school administrators, teachers, staff, and concerned parents with basic information about working with traumatized children in the school system. This toolkit is free through The National Child Traumatic Stress Network website.

Collaborative & Proactive Solutions*

CPS has been found to dramatically reduce discipline referrals, detentions and suspensions in many schools and is listed as an EBP in the California Child Welfare System.  This is a technology for giving students practice at implementing problem solving skills in group or individual counseling sessions.  It includes an assessment of lagging skills to help guide collaborative work with the student. It is strengths-based, structured, and collaboratively measures progress using youth voice in the intervention.

Coping with Stress

This is a group psycho-educational, cognitive-behavioral intervention for the prevention of depression for youth in schools with an increased risk for depression, but not currently in active depression.  This is prevention/early intervention and not treatment.  It is facilitated by a mental health professional.  In a school setting it may be offered as a class during regular school hours, as an adjunct to a class, or as a workshop or pull-out group. It includes eight 90 minute sessions. The therapist manual and student manual are a free download.  This is an evidence-based intervention.

*Olweus Bullying Program*
Olweus Bullying Program utilizes online courses, web conferences and in-person program implementation seminars. These interactive programs provide key information about bullying, cyber bullying, and dating violence, and explain how schools, community organizations, and parents can create safe, healthy environments.

Promote/Prevent – Preventing Bullying

Bullying is a growing problem in our country. More damaging than youth conflict—bullying can be both physically and emotionally traumatic for the youth involved, as well as those who see it occur. Bullying affects children starting in preschool and can last beyond high school. It can take the form of physical abuse, or hurt victims through rumors and exclusion. BUT—there’s good news. Bullying can be stopped and the first step is understanding it.

Prevent Cyberbullying*

Stopbullying.gov provides information and strategies for schools on Cyberbullying regarding: awareness, warning signs that a child is being Cyberbullied or is Cyberbullying others, and what to do when Cyberbullying happens.  The site includes prevention strategies for establishing policies, engaging parents, students and the community in prevention.  Guidance is provided to build a safe environment at school, including a recommendation for PBIS strategies to reward students when they show thoughtfulness and respect for peers, adults and the school. A searchable database includes resources for bully prevention tips, facts, campaigns and curriculum for both bullying and Cyberbullying.

Psychological First Aid for Schools* 
Psychological First Aid for Schools is an evidence-informed approach for assisting children, adolescents, adults, and families in the aftermath of a school crisis, disaster, or terrorism event. A free 6 hour online course is available as well as in person training opportunities. To arrange for training contact your ESC or the School Safety Center.

Road to Recovery: Supporting Children with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Who Have Experienced Trauma*

The Road to Recovery: Supporting Children with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Who Have Experienced Trauma is a training that provides an overview for providers on how to work with children and families who are living with intellectual and development disabilities who have experienced trauma. This Toolkit consists of a Facilitator Guide and a Participant Manual. Together, they are designed to teach basic knowledge, skills, and values about working with children with IDD who have had traumatic experiences, and how to use this knowledge to support children’s safety, well-being, happiness, and recovery through trauma-informed practice.

Cognitive Behavioral Intervention for Trauma in Schools (CBITS)*
The Cognitive Behavioral Intervention for Trauma in Schools (CBITS) program is a school-based, group and individual intervention. It is designed to reduce symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, and behavioral problems, and to improve functioning, grades and attendance, peer and parent support, and coping skills. CBITS has been used with students from 5th grade through 12th grade who have witnessed or experienced traumatic life events such as community and school violence, accidents and injuries, physical abuse and domestic violence, and natural and man-made disasters.

Treatment interventions 

 Dialectical Behavior (DBT) Therapy 

Dialectical Behavior Therapy is a systematic therapy that organizes treatment into stages and goals, or targets. The goals of the first stage of DBT focus on decreasing life-threatening behaviors, including addressing depression, suicidality, substance dependence and PSTD. DBT skills are taught in DBT groups by a mental health professional and focus on improving behavioral, emotional, and cognitive instability. DBT groups focus on the development of the following four skills: Mindfulness meditation; Interpersonal effectiveness; Emotion regulation; and Distress tolerance. It is evidence-based.

Coping with Depression- Adolescent (CWD-A)

CWD-A is a cognitive behavioral group treatment intervention for actively depressed teens ages 14-18.  The areas covered include relaxation techniques, countering negative thoughts, social skills, communication, and problem solving.  Sessions are conducted as a class with a mental health professional group leader.  Skills are taught using lectures, discussions, role-playing exercises and other activities.  Students receive a workbook and structured learning tasks, brief readings, self-monitoring forms, and short quizzes.  Homework assignments are used to encourage generalization of skills. The therapist manual and student manual are free downloads.  There are also materials for a parent group that is a companion intervention for the youth served in the depression group. This is an evidence-based practice.

Youth Empowerment Services (YES)

The Youth Empowerment Services (YES) waiver is a 1915(c) Medicaid program that provides services and support to children and youth ages 3-18 with serious mental, emotional and behavioral difficulties who are at risk of out-of-home placement due to their mental health needs.  The YES waiver provides intensive services such as specialized therapies, paraprofessional services and family supports delivered within a strengths-based team planning process called Wraparound. Wraparound builds on family and community support and utilizes YES services to help build the family’s natural support network and connection with their community. YES services are family-centered, coordinated and effective at preventing out-of-home placement and promoting lifelong independence and self-defined success.

To find your Local Mental Health Authority or for more information about the YES Waiver, please visit: hhs.texas.gov/YES-waiver

Contact Information
Julie Wayman, Mental/Behavioral Health Coordinator