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Comprehensive Approaches to Addressing Mental Health Needs and Enhancing School Security: A Cluster Randomized Controlled Trial

NCJ Number
Edmund F. McGarrell; Chris Melde; Justin Heinze; Susan Franzen; Kevin Michaels; Ariel Roddy
Date Published
34 pages

This document reports on a project that involved the implementation of a comprehensive intervention to promote school safety, followed by a rigorous research study to understand the impact of the intervention.


The authors report on a project that involved the implementation and impact analysis of a comprehensive intervention program to promote school safety. The guiding principle behind the intervention was that school safety can be enhanced through deliberate and planned efforts to create a positive climate. The project’s first goal was to support the effective implementation of a positive school climate intervention, based on three key intervention components: restorative practices; mental health first aid training; and assessment of and adaptation to the physical environment of the school. The four goals of the follow-up research were: in a randomized control trial, to examine the overall effectiveness of the intervention, estimating prevention benefits with regards to change in violence, mental health, and school climate over time, compared with a control group of students who received school practice as usual; to examine change within the underlying conceptual model that suggests a reduction in violence stems from improvements to mental health which is in turn improved by more positive school climate; to support implementation of an integrated intervention strategy, to study the implementation of the intervention, and to identify ways to sustain it; and to perform a cost-benefit analysis of the intervention. The outcome assessment included changes in behaviors and perceptions of students, teachers, and staff; it also involved data on school disciplinary incidents. The analysis included evaluation of change over time and comparisons between control and test schools.