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School Safety and School-Based Mental Health Services in a Large Metropolitan School District

NCJ Number
Date Published
November 2021
154 pages

This is the Final Report of a project in which RTI International partnered with Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools (CMS) in North Carolina to study school safety, using a school-randomized controlled trial (RCT) of three types of school-based mental health (SBMH) services. 



In addition, a quasi-experimental study compared each of the three SBMH arms to a set of propensity score-matched, non-randomized, non-SBMH comparison schools (n=34). SBMH refers to a range of services potentially provided by mental health professionals in the school building. The current study focused on SBMH because evidence shows that students whose mental-health needs are not met may be more likely to perpetrate school infractions or violence. The schools involved in the current study had existing SBMH services in place for their students through community partners who employed licensed therapists to work in the schools, meeting with students weekly and as needed. Other providers in the  participating schools addressed students mental health needs through school counselors, school social workers, or school psychologists. The study examined three types of SBMH: 1) enhanced treatment, 2) expanded treatment, and 3) treatment as usual. Outcomes were measured by using students and staff survey data and administrative data provided by participating schools. Cost evaluation tools were developed for the study. Overall, there was partial support for hypotheses that “enhanced” SBMH would result in improved school safety and school climate compared with “expanded” SBMH and “treatment as usual;” however, there were also results that did not support these hypotheses. Cost-effective analyses suggested that the costs associated with “expanded” interventions provided the best means of reducing student victimization compared with “enhanced” SBMH. 68 exhibits

Date Published: November 1, 2021