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Student Mental Health and Trauma - Breakout Session, NIJ Virtual Conference on School Safety

On February 16-18, 2021, the National Institute of Justice hosted the Virtual Conference on School Safety: Bridging Research to Practice to Safeguard Our Schools. This video includes the following presentations: 

Evaluating the Implementation of a Multicomponent, School-Based Mental Health Program: Lessons Learned from a Southeastern Site, Kristina Childs Fisher and Sara Bryson

In 2015, the Brevard County Public School System implemented a comprehensive mental health program in a K-12 feeder pattern comprised of four elementary schools and one middle/high school. The program components included placing one social worker in each school to train educators about youth mental health needs, administer a needs assessment to behaviorally challenged students, deliver emotion regulation lessons, and link students and families to needed community-based services. The evaluation of the program sought to examine the impact of these efforts on training participants, student participants, and among the full body of students and teachers at each school. We present five lessons learned through our efforts to develop and implement a rigorous evaluation of this multidimensional, school-based mental health program. Together, these lessons highlight the importance of collaboration, communication, and consistency.

School and Family Engagement – Trauma Informed (SAFE-TI) Research Findings and A District's Sustainable Path Forward, Marilyn King and Johanna Bertken

The SAFE-TI research project evaluated school safety impacts of multi-tiered, trauma-informed prevention efforts and interventions. The use of evidence-based approaches, in combination with professional development opportunities, and the formation of a student assistance specialist role for delivering interventions, resulted in positive qualitative changes in school culture and student outcomes.

This presentation will provide an overview of the SAFE-TI research design, findings, and recommendations for enhancing student safety and resilience. It will also cover more recent initiatives to broaden and institutionalize the implementation of universal trauma-conscious educational practices. Participants will hear about the successes and challenges of moving away from a clinical model of service delivery that aims either to treat psychological problems or to punish deviant behavior and toward a model that leverages therapeutic relationships between staff and students in order to improve student outcomes.

Using Trauma-Informed Approaches in Schools to Foster Resilience among Urban Black Youth Exposed to Neighborhood Violence, Stacy Overstreet


Prior research has suggested that student perceptions of safety at school are likely to serve as a protective factor against the negative effects of exposure to neighborhood violence on student aggression. When students feel safe at school, they may be better able to fully engage in the cognitive processes that support behavior and emotion regulation. They are also more likely to exhibit prosocial behavior and feel empowered to talk about their experiences within the context of supportive relationships. The aims of the presentation are to: 1) present quantitative findings from a study of 611 3rd - 8th grade students demonstrating a positive association between exposure to neighborhood violence and student aggression as well as a negative association between student perceptions of safety and student aggression; 2) present qualitative data from students to understand the qualities of their school experience that make them feel safe and supported; 3) describe specific strategies within our trauma-informed schools model to enhance student perceptions of safety and build supportive student-teacher relationships as mechanisms to help students heal from trauma.


Date Published: February 17, 2021