The Interconnected Systems Framework (ISF) seeks to connect education and mental health systems and staff in order to improve educational outcomes of K-12 students. By identifying ways Positive Behavior Interventions and Support (PBIS) and School Mental Health (SMH) can work together, the ISF can both improve the quality of the individual systems and help eliminate gaps or missing elements of the two combined.

Positive Behavior Interventions and Support (PBIS)

PBIS is a widely implemented, multi-tiered framework that provides school personnel with prevention oriented evidence based supports. PBIS a continuum of positive behavior support for all students within a school is implemented in all school settings. Positive behavior support is an application of a behaviorally-based systems approach to enhance the capacity of schools, families, and communities to design effective environments that improve the link between research-validated practices and the environments in which teaching and learning occurs. The efforts focus on leadership, decision-making, behavior monitoring, screening, and professional development and support. Schools which implemented PBIS have seen reductions in office referrals and discipline problems.

School Mental Health (SMH)

SMH refers to a cooperative effort between schools, communities, and families to offer quality mental health promotion programs and services in K-12 schools. These programs include social and emotional learning and life skills training, emotional and behavioral (EB) problem prevention, early identification of EB problems, and evidence based interventions. Traditionally, SMH was only addressed within schools by schools themselves, but the expanded model involving community-based practitioners has begun to take hold.

Enhancing the ISF

An enhanced ISF takes the expanded model, which involves PBIS and SMH educators working with community and family organizations, and improves upon it in five key areas.

  1. improving collaboration among families, educators, clinicians, and other youth-system staff;
  2. school-wide approaches for prevention and intervention;
  3. improving the quality of services;
  4. increasing implementation support;
  5. enhancing cultural humility and reducing racial, ethnic, and other disparities.

After a focus group in 2015 and a conference in 2016, SSBHC is holding research forums across the state to develop the model even further.

Advancing Education Effectiveness:

Interconnecting School Mental Health and School-Wide Positive Behavior Support Editors: Susan Barrett, Lucille Eber & Mark Weist

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