Welcome to the 5 Things Digest from the NTTAC School Based Services Transformation Team. Our team’s work focuses on bridging school-based services to support students, staff, and school members with or potentially with mental health and related challenges.
You can turn to our team for these five themes that guide our programming and products. These themes support fostering culturally responsive, coordinated, and comprehensive networks and partnerships in and with schools and school-based services:

  1. Competency building: Fostering school-based providers’ knowledge, awareness, and skills to support trauma-informed, systems-focused policies and practices  
  2. Ensuring a continuum of care: Developmentally appropriate, strengths-based, culturally competent school-based mental health promotion, prevention, early identification, and intervention services
  3. Power with: Commitment to and content on school-based providers sharing power, choice, and autonomy with staff and students
  4. Restorative relationships: Partnerships and networks in and with schools thrive with positive, safe, and real relationships
  5. Communication and collaboration: Facilitating communication and collaboration within and among service providers and systems, so that students and their families receive consistent and predictable care
Each School-Based Services “5 Things” will focus on one of these themes. This issue brings you 5 Things to know right now about:
Competency building: Fostering school-based providers’ knowledge, awareness, and skills to support trauma-informed, systems-focused policies and practices
#1: Language Matters
Level-setting knowledge, language, and foundational understanding of trauma and healing is the first step to professional development and is ongoing.
In order for policies and practices in schools to grow into trauma-informed cultures, all staff, students, and partners need to have basic body and brain conceptual understandings. The more unified is the way in which we speak about mental health in schools (including behavior), the more cohesive services and approaches will be.
This EdWeek issue has fantastic video content that can be incorporated into virtual or in-person professional development that coaches schools to be centered on student well-being, including:
  • What Does It Mean to Be Trauma-Informed?
  • How Can Pandemic Trauma Impact Students in the Long-Run?
  • Tips for Building Trauma-Informed Programs
#2: Co-Regulation Matters

School-based providers face stresses and stressors, now and always. Competency building involves understanding student and family behavior, feelings, and needs, and also involves understanding our own state of well-being. We can foster our awareness of those we serve at the same time as we foster our awareness of ourselves.
The National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN) highlights a three-word refrain, “Pause-Reset-Nourish” (PRN), that fosters neuroplastic and nervous system awareness (see these quick neurophysiology facts that inform P-R-N).
This two-page guide is a simple and effective overview of practices to check in, steady, and replenish as a provider. The PRN frame was created by Hamilton Health Sciences for health providers via their companion COVID-19 Resilience Support Toolkit and can be adapted for school-based providers.
#3: Educator Learning Matters
Just as we work towards providing high quality student services, so too do we work towards providing high quality adult learning for student-providers (e.g., educators, administrators, school psychologists, school counselors). During the pandemic, many school faculty are engaging in professional development asynchronously, which can be complicated for instructional and professional development leads to navigate.
Discovery Education, Alliance for a Healthier Generation, and Kaiser Permanente created tools and resources to foster trauma-informed work in school. The models are self-paced, free, and focused on educator and student well-being.
Check out the first two modules that are ready and out now: Trauma Informed Care & Educator Well-Being and Cultural Humility & Equity. Adult-learner designed, the modules also come with a companion guide that professional development leaders can use to differentiate school-based service providers’ learning.

Coming soon! The school-based initiative of our partner TA network, the Mental Health Technology Transfer Network (MHTTC), will release a free online course and website focused on educator mental health literacy. The course, Classroom WISE (Well-Being Information and Strategies for Educators), is launching in Spring 2021 and is being informed by and co-developed with educators from across the nation.
#4: School-based Trauma-informed Policies Matter
Building school-based providers’ competencies to foster trauma-informed services is only effective if the structures and systems guiding the services are trauma-informed as well. School-based trauma-informed policies are an essential ingredient to this work.
The Pacific Southwest MHTTC created a guide and accompanying infographic (2019) that provide a deep dive into developing, implementing, and evaluating trauma-informed and compassionate school policies. Designed to be hands-on, the guide offers trauma-informed school policy examples, guiding questions for leadership, and practice suggestions to help policy come alive.
This two-page Policy Outline by Education Commission of the States (2020) is an introduction to trauma-informed practices, as defined in state education policy. This resource includes examples of current legislation in 10 states: IL, IN, ME, NY, OK, PA, TN, TX, UT, and WA.
#5: Quality Indicators of School Mental Health Matter
Fostering school-based providers’ knowledge, skills, and awareness can be guided by already-existing, evidence-based quality indicators. By aligning competency building initiatives, state, district, and school leaders can strengthen school mental health systems comprehensively. 
Three resources support this work:

To help states, districts, and schools advance comprehensive school mental health, as well as engage in a planning process around implementation of services, the MHTTC Network Coordinating Office and National Center for School Mental Health developed a national school mental health curriculum (2019). The free curriculum is made of a trainer and participant manual as well as slide decks to use for professional development delivery, and it is aligned to the eight quality indicators of school mental health.

To support the field’s use of the curriculum, the MHTTC Network is hosting an 8-part training series February – May 2021 called Always and Now. Each session incudes a pre-session video to ensure learners are primed and supported, a live panel session featuring national practitioners and researchers, and a post-session regional breakout to meet other school-based leaders and providers and build peer-networks. And importantly, all sessions’ content will consider the current pandemic and its impact.

To provide guidance to states and communities, the National Conference on State Legislatures has just released a full brief and blog overview about comprehensive school mental health systems. The full brief includes examples of state efforts, including how states are navigating tight budgets during the pandemic.
  • The full brief can be found here
  • The blog here,
  • The magazine homepage here
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Disclaimer: The views, opinions, and content expressed in this email do not necessarily reflect the views, opinions, or policies of the Center for Mental Health Services (CMHS), the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), or the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).