Comprehensive School-based Mental Health Supports and Services

Comprehensive school-based mental health addresses the social and personal development of school-age children including wellness/resiliency, mental health, substance abuse, effects of childhood trauma, and the stigma associated with mental illness. Research has shown that when comprehensive school-based mental health services are provided, there is improved academic performance, fewer special education referrals, a decreased need for more restrictive placements among students at high-risk, and higher graduation rates. (Source: The Impact of School Mental Health: Educational, Social, Emotional, and Behavioral Outcomes, University of Maryland School of Medicine, July 2013)

The Department has created the Tennessee Comprehensive School-based Mental Health Resource Guide to provide support to school districts interested in expanding their capacity to provide students with mental health supports and services. A school district can request technical assistance from the Department’s Office of Student Support to implement the resource guide strategies. For additional information or to schedule technical assistance, contact:

Sarah Arnold, Director of Student and Family Services
Tennessee Department of Education
Division of Coordinated School Health
(629) 259-3199

Youth Mental Health Data Brief

Mental health issues can have a profound impact on our youth and can hinder their overall ability to learn, socialize, and communicate effectively. The following data sheet provides an overview of the mental health landscape among Tennessee's youth and aims to provide ways that educators can support students dealing with these issues.

Prevalence of Mental Health Conditions

  • 1 in 6 youth ages 6–17 experience a mental health disorder each year.
  • 50% of all mental health disorders begin before the age of 14, and 75% of all mental health disorders manifest before the age of 24.
  • In Tennessee, suicide is the second leading cause of death among youth between 10 and 17 years old
  • According to recent Tennessee Kidscount data, 24% of children have at least one or more behavioral health conditions, 38% of high school students reported a feeling of sadness or hopelessness, and 10% of children and teens suffer with anxiety or depression.

Research indicates that anywhere between 14% to 43% of children and teens will experience at least one traumatic event.

Access to Mental Health Care

  • Tennessee is ranked 50th in access to care for youth and more than two-thirds of Tennessee youth with clinical depression go untreated, while only 12% of youth with severe depression received consistent treatment.6
  • Rural areas of Tennessee face challenges in accessing mental health care services.7
  • Telehealth services may provide an alternative to in-person care in areas with limited access to mental health care providers.

Impact on Academic Performance

  • Youth with mental health conditions are more likely to experience academic difficulties and dropout of school.
  • Children and youth with mental health disorders may miss as many as 18 to 22 days of school.
  • The rates of suspension and expulsion of children and youth with mental disorders are three times higher than their peers.
  • Only 32 percent of students with a serious mental illness continue onto postsecondary education.

How Educators Can Help

  1. Understanding the most common warning signs and symptoms of mental health issues will help to identify students who may be struggling.
  2. Reaching out to the school or community counselors when clear symptoms are present helps deliver the proper support and care from the appropriate health care providers.
  3. Fostering healthy coping skills and resiliency in the classroom may lead to better emotional responses among students.
  4. Providing appropriate classroom peer-systems and programming can teach children appropriate group skills, communication foundations, and coping methods.

Schools can play an essential role in identifying and addressing mental health concerns among youth by collaborating with community mental health care providers to support students with additional needs.

For more information visit Tennessee Department of Education’s Comprehensive School-based Mental Health Supports and Services page:

Youth Mental Health First Aid

Youth Mental Health First Aid (YMHFA) training is available statewide. Youth Mental Health First Aid (YMHFA) introduces participants to the unique risk factors and warning signs of mental health problems in adolescents, builds understanding of the importance of early intervention, and teaches individuals how to help an adolescent who is in crisis or experiencing a mental health challenge. Additional information on YMHFA, is available here.

For additional information or to schedule a group YMHFA training, contact:

Jaime Grammer, School Counseling Manager
Tennessee Department of Education
Division of Coordinated School Health
(615) 638-5235

TDOE Awards $10.2M in Resilient School Community Grants

We are excited to announce 97 Tennessee School Districts have been awarded a Resilient School Communities Grant to address needs for school-based supports, expand school-based initiatives, and increase staff capacity to best serve students. 

The grant funding will cover the cost of resources to train participating districts in trauma-informed practices while receiving regional and state-level support for execution. Additionally, the grant funding will extend school-based initiatives and supports within districts through development of comprehensive school-based supports and program models, such as Advancing Wellness and Resilience in Education (AWARE). Further, funding will increase staff capacity for school-based supports, including mental health support staff, such as counselors, school psychologists, social workers, and behavioral specialists. 

Important Links