TAP Online Training: Introduction to Behavioral Health in Schools: Supports for Students

TAP Online Training: Introduction to Behavioral Health in Schools: Supports for Students

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The Clough Foundation Training and Access Project (TAP) is a part of the Boston Children's Hospital Neighborhood Partnerships Program (BCHNP) in the Department of Psychiatry at Boston Children's Hospital. TAP offers high-quality professional development and consultation services to Boston schools to help build capacity to address students’ social, emotional, and behavioral health needs. The project has partnered with 15 Boston Public Schools and will expand to 25 schools by 2021.

In order to reach more schools beyond Boston, TAP is developing a series of free online trainings for educators and school communities everywhere. The online trainings cover a variety of topics related to social, emotional, and behavioral health in schools and are adapted from a series of live trainings facilitated in partnership with the Boston Public Schools. 

Since 2015, TAP has facilitated a Learning Collaborative with Boston schools. The Learning Collaborative brings together teams from participating schools for a series of professional development workshops. Participants include administrators, teachers, nurses, social workers, psychologists, support staff, and specialists. The Collaborative is based on the concept that knowledge is gained through people actively interacting with other educators across roles and settings, sharing experiences and capitalizing on one another's resources and skills. The trainings consist of a blend of theory and applications to practice. TAP has evaluated and enhanced the trainings to prepare them for this video series. 

This TAP online training is called “An Introduction to Behavioral Health in Schools: Supports for Students.” This training uses an ecological model that takes into account development, environment, and cultural considerations to help build a context for understanding student behavior. Behavior is explored in more detail with a focus on its function and purpose. Foundational information about behavioral health is provided including definitions, prevalence, considerations when behavior is concerning, and an overview of some common behavioral health disorders.  

The training also shares positive behavioral supports for school communities and suggestions for replacing challenging behaviors with pro-social skills. The strategies focus on prevention as well as building coping skills for students to help them succeed in school.  

Lastly, the training discusses an overview of therapeutic services that could be provided in schools or in the community. Considerations for how schools can support students, families, and caregivers find services and navigate the system are highlighted. Additional resources are provided upon completion of the workshop. 


Course Format 

This training consists of a series of six chapters described below. By the end of the training, the goal is for each participant to have a foundational understanding of behavioral health, knowledge about strategies to support students in the classroom, and tools to support students and caregivers in accessing services. 

Chapter 1- Introduction to Behavioral Health in Schools: Supports for Students 

Chapter 2- What is Behavior?  

Chapter 3- When is Behavior Concerning?  

Chapter 4- What is Behavioral Health? 

Chapter 5- Building Your Toolbox for Supporting Students 

Chapter 6- Accessing Services 

Chapter 7- Closing Summary  

Upon successful completion of this training, participants will receive a certificate of completion. To be granted access to the library of resources mentioned in this video, please send this certificate to BCHNP@childrens.harvard.edu 

Please visit our website for more information and instructions, or contact us at BCHNP@childrens.harvard.edu with questions regarding this training. The BCHNP team is available by email or phone beyond the training for consultation. 

Learning Objectives

Participants will:  

  • Identify factors that contribute to a student’s behavior 
  • Identify symptoms of common behavioral health challenges 
  • Describe strategies for supporting students experiencing behavioral health challenges 
  • Describe strategies for supporting caregivers in accessing behavioral health services 

Statement of Need  

There is a national crisis in the accessibility and availability of behavioral health services for children and adolescents. Approximately 20% of youth are in need of behavioral health interventions1, and in urban areas this number is often much higher. Nationwide, only 20-30% of children who need behavioral health services are receiving care.2 

Schools have become the de facto providers of behavioral health services for children, providing an estimated 70-80% of psychosocial services to those children who receive them.3 As a result, school-based behavioral health services are evolving as a primary strategy to remove barriers to access and to improve coordination of care for children and adolescents.1 There is increasing recognition that a “shared agenda” involving collaboration among leaders and staff from behavioral health and school systems, along with families and other stakeholders is needed to promote youth’s success in school. 4 

Providing support for social, emotional, and behavioral health in schools reaches beyond intensive and traditional clinical services. School-wide supports are essential to providing a safe and supportive learning environment and all educators have an impact on a student’s development.5 Research shows that students are more likely to be engaged in learning and feel supported when they perceive school staff as dedicated to emotionally supporting students.6 Providing educators with the necessary tools to promote healthy social-emotional development has shown to improve academic performance, lower discipline rates, and increased attendance.7 When educators have the necessary information and skills to address students’ social, emotional, and behavioral health in the classroom, all students can benefit.  

Suggested Audience 

  • School Administrators 
  • Teachers and School Staff 
  • School Psychologists 
  • Social Workers 
  • Adjustment Counselors, Guidance Counselors, School Counselors 
  • School Nurses 
  • School-Based Behavioral Health Agencies and Partners

Curriculum Directors 

Shella Dennery, PhD, LICSW, PhD; Andie Fox, LICSW, M.Ed.; Molly Jordan, LICSW  


Elizabeth Belton, LICSW; Sue Costello, LICSW; Amy Kaye, PhD; Gisella Mendizabal, LICSW; Vanja Pejic, PhD 

Marketing and Communications Specialist 

Priscila Paulino, MS 

Video Production 

Giro Studios

We would like to thank our donors for making this project possible: 

  • The Manton Foundation 
  • Gloria and Charles Clough Foundation 
  • C.F. Adams Charitable Trust 

We also encourage you to view our other online trainings

The first online training in the TAP series is called "An Overview of Social-Emotional Development: What Can We Expect in the Classroom?" This workshop includes foundational information about social, emotional, and behavioral health in schools and incorporates important concepts such as engaging families, cultural sensitivity, and the impact of social-emotional development in academics and learning. The workshop also highlights strategies and activities that can be easily used in the classroom to promote social-emotional skills. There are additional resources provided upon completion of the workshop.  

The Break Free from Depression Curriculum developed by the Boston Children's Hospital Neighborhood Partnerships Program. This is a 4-module curriculum focused on increasing awareness about adolescent depression designed for use in high school classrooms. Throughout the curriculum, there are didactic presentations, interactive activities, and opportunities for discussion. The goals are to increase awareness about depression and suicide, identify signs and symptoms of depression in oneself and peers, and provide strategies for finding help.

Release Date

  • March 30, 2018

instructional Time

  • 3 Hours, 00 Minutes

Committee on School Health (2004). School-based mental health services.  Pediatrics, 113(6), 1839-1845.
Weist, M.D., & Evans, S.W. (2005). Expanded school mental health: Challenges and opportunities in an emerging field. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 34(1), 3-6. 
Rones, M., & Hoagwood, K. (2000). School-based mental health services: A research review. Clinical Child and Family Psychology Review, 3(4), 223-241. 
Andis, P., Cashman, J., Oglesby, D., Praschil, R., Adelman, H., Taylor, L., and Weist, M. (2002). A strategic and shared agenda to advance mental health in schools through family and system partnerships. International Journal of Mental Health Promotion, 4(4), 28-35.
5  Mizell, H. (2010). Why Professional Development Matters. Learning Forward. 504 South Locust Street, Oxford, OH 45056.
Center for Disease Control and Prevention Adolescent and School Health Resources: 
Durlak, J. A., Weissberg, R. P., Dymnicki, A. B., Taylor, R. D., & Schellinger, K. B. (2011). The impact of enhancing students' social and emotional learning: A meta‐analysis of school‐based universal interventions. Child development, 82(1), 405-432.