Building a Behavioral Health System for Marathon County Youth

Advancing Behavioral Health Initiative Phase II: Reducing depression in 6-12th grade students

Full Project Name:Building a Behavioral Health System to Reduce Reported Depression Among 6-12th Grade StudentsPrimary Community Organization:Marathon County Health DepartmentPrimary Academic Partner:Michelle Broaddus, PhD, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral MedicineAward Amount:$999,139
Award Date
July2017
Project Duration:60 months

Project Description Narrative:


Advancing Behavioral Health Initiative Phase II

In 2015, one out of five Marathon County high school students reported that they were depressed in the past year, and nearly one-third reported having three or more poor mental health days in the previous month. In addition, 21.3% of Marathon County 9th-12th grade students were at-risk for depression during the past year according to the Youth Risk Behavior Survey. Analysis of the YRBS results demonstrate a clear link between students who were at-risk for depression and students with poor mental health days with an increase in other health risk behaviors, including self-harm, tobacco and alcohol use, and taking prescription drugs without a doctor's prescription.

To address student poor mental health days and risk for depression as well as related student health issues, project partners aim to reduce reported depression in 6-12th grade students in Marathon County by 5% by 2020 by:

• Increasing accessibility and utilization of on-site mental health counseling services in all 10 Marathon County school districts
• Increasing knowledge and awareness of student population needs among school districts, community agencies, local government entities, and parents through data sharing
• Using local data to more effectively allocate resources across Marathon County public school districts and Marathon County community organizations to address youth needs within schools and community organizations to improve behavioral health outcomes

This project is part of AHW's Advancing Behavioral Health Initiative, an eight-year, $20 million initiative bringing together 10 community coalitions from across Wisconsin to address pressing mental health needs within their communities. The initiative is designed in three phases, providing a funded planning year, a five-year implementation period, and a two-year sustainable transformation phase.

Outcomes & Lessons Learned:


  • Established the Marathon County School-Based Counseling Consortium (MCS-BCC) to bring together local mental health clinics and school districts to implement and sustain school-based mental health services
  • Established onsite mental health counseling services in all 11 Marathon County public school districts reaching over 1,500 youth through school-based mental health services during the project period
  • Supported over 100 educational opportunities and trainings with school districts, mental health clinics and community organizations to build capacity to support students in and out of the classroom
  • Resulted in increased commitment and allocation of resources by school districts and mental health clinics leading to many significant policy, systems, and environmental changes, including changes to physical spaces to provide safe and confidential spaces for therapy sessions, increased funding and staffing changes to support additional pupil service staff roles, flex-time to support relationship-building between students and staff, expansion of school-based mentoring programs, and implementation of annual mental wellness and mental health retreats
  • Received recognition for the MCS-BCC as an influential entity in the community through a Spotlight Award from the Marathon County Alcohol & Other Drug (AOD) Partnership and a Community Partner Award from the United Way of Marathon County

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