A Healthier Wisconsin

School Community Partnership for Mental Health

Refining a collaborative partnership model of mental health promotion and services to support urban Milwaukee youth

Full Project Name:School Community Partnership for Mental HealthPrimary Community Organization:Milwaukee Public SchoolsPrimary Academic Partner:Sheri Johnson, PhD, PediatricsAward Amount:$190,617
Award Date
Project Duration:30 months

Project Description Narrative:

In the United States, the overall annual prevalence of mental disorders in children is about 21% ? and only 20% of those children receive appropriate treatment, with an even lower proportion of African-American and Latino children receiving needed care. Based on these estimated, approximately 16,000 children enrolled in Milwaukee Public Schools may be in need of mental health services, yet only 3,200 are likely to receive necessary treatment.

In response, the School Community Partnership for Mental Health (SCPMH) project leverages the ongoing efforts of Youth Mental Health Connections to promote mental health by focusing on improving access, utilization and quality of mental health services available to children in need. Through this award, project partners aim to refine and demonstrate the effectiveness of a collaborative partnership model of mental health promotion and service and to influence systems changes needed for sustainability.

Community partners: Aurora Family Service, Children's Community Health Plan, City of Milwaukee Health Department, Community Connect Health Plan, IMPACT Planning Council, Molina Healthcare, OptumHealth, Pathfinders, Rogers Memorial Hospital, Sebastian Family Psychology Practice, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Wisconsin Chapter of American Academy of Pediatrics, Wisconsin Department of Health Services, Wraparound Milwaukee

Additional MCW academic partner: Chelsea Hamilton, Pediatrics

Outcomes & Lessons Learned:

  • Implemented a system of mental health promotion and service delivery in four Milwaukee Public Schools, working in partnership with parents, community providers, and school staff to raise the treatment initiation rate for students from approximately 5% to 51%
  • Utilized community health workers (CHWs) to increase parent engagement in school-based mental health promotion, awareness, identification, and treatment, increasing trust between schools, community mental health staff, and parents to reduce stigma
  • Trained school staff and parents about conditions that support mental health and school success, engaging parents through events, surveys, focus groups, and CHW contacts, reaching 1/3 of the parent population across the four participating schools
  • Provided case-specific, family-centered collaborative consultation services to school staff and parents
  • Developed policy solutions to support and increase mental health services for urban children, creating a project manual and sharing results with key leadership and stakeholder groups, and obtained agreement from county behavioral health services to enhance their policies regarding reimbursement for community agencies
  • Leveraged $112,000 in funding from other sources to support provider time in schools and community coordinator time

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8701 W Watertown Plank Road,
Milwaukee, WI 53226-0509
(414) 955-4350