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.

Project Updates:


• The first year of the implementation phase was predominantly focused on the development of the Marathon County School-Based Counseling Consortium (MCS-BCC). During the current reporting period the project built upon and increased the county-wide commitment and alignment around system changes in behavioral health and made numerous strides forward including: on-boarding two additional mental health clinics; developing a shared communication platform; reassessing the complex MCS-BCC structure and revising written agreements to fit the scope of the group and current needs; collecting and sharing qualitative and quantitative data related to school-based mental health counseling to demonstrate the effectiveness of counseling and to shape the narrative regarding school-based mental health counseling in Marathon County; and, increasing the capacity of school staff to better address mental health needs of students.
• 2018-2019 marked the first full school year that participating mental health clinics provided mental health counseling service access in every single public school in Marathon County at least ½ day per week.
• The project has increased the accessibility and utilization to on-site mental health counseling services in Marathon County public school districts by increasing: the number of signed agreements between school districts and mental health providers from 4 to 20; the number of schools that provide on-site mental health counseling services from 11-59; the number of days per week in 59 schools which a licensed mental health therapist is onsite at school from 4 to 45.05; the number of licensed mental health therapists providing services at schools from 3 to 28; and, the number of students served by licensed mental health therapists at school from 30 to more than 215.
• Successes related to Strategy #3 efforts to utilize data more effectively to allocate resources to address youth needs include: increased referrals and encouragement to families to utilize onsite mental health counseling; the School District of Athens built-in a half-hour flex time period into every school day to help students build relationships with each other and school staff; Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northcentral Wisconsin has expanded their school-based mentoring program to several school districts; D.C. Everest Jr. High hosted their first Mental Wellness Day entitled “Kind Minds” for all 9th graders (585 students); Wausau School District hosted a Mental Health retreat for all pupil services staff in Marathon County in which nine school districts were represented with 93 total in attendance; and two schools districts hosted community nights focused on mental health and onsite counseling services.

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