Experts believe there is a gap between evidence and technique when addressing mental health in the educational environment. Many programs addressing mental health in schools have been developed, including programs that deal with suicide, anger, anxiety, depression and aggression. However, a new article suggests that the generic model is not effective for every school setting. Researchers from the University of Missouri, including Melissa Maras, assistant professor of school psychology in the Department of Educational, School, and Counseling Psychology in the MU College of Education, and Joni Splett, a doctoral student, recently wrote about the topic.
They wrote that “Evidence based Practices” have absorbed a vast amount of training, money and time in order to reach a level of effectiveness and appropriateness with respect to mental health in the educational area. However, Maras believes that the developers neglected to allow for the uniqueness that a school environment presents, and thus decreased the impact that these programs have. She believes that families, children and schools are suffering as a result. “Every school is unique, with a distinct culture and different set of needs and resources,” says Maras. “Too often researchers are ready with the solution before they really know what the problem is. What schools really need is help sorting through everything they’re already doing to figure out what’s working and what’s not, and that can be difficult.”
The researchers are focusing their attention on an effort to create a modern model of mental health treatment in schools, called the “Community-Centered Model.” Their goal is to enhance the techniques that are already established, and to integrate new, more productive methods into the existing model. “We believe schools know what’s best for their students” says Splett in a related article. “Our job is to help them improve what they’re already doing and work with them to implement new programs and practices in a way that makes sense.”
Maras, Splett. Schools need collaboration, not packaged solutions, for best mental health programs. e! Science News. Web. May 4, 2011. http://esciencenews.com/articles/2011/05. Schools Need Collaboration, Not Packaged Solutions, for Best Mental Health Programs/04/schools.need.collaboration.not.packaged.solutions.best.mental.health.programs. Science Daily. Web. May 4, 2011. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/05/110504123639.htm
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