Two School-Based Mental Health Services: One Systemic Approach
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This presentation focuses on the development, operation, and evolution of two school-based, mental health consultation services operating in private and charter schools in Calgary, AB, Canada. First, I describe the Family-School-System Consultation Service, a targeted mental health consultation service available for over 100 private and charter schools in Calgary, AB, which has operated since 2001. I will: examine the challenges inherent in providing services to a diverse constellation of schools; describe the family systems foundations of the consultation service; describe the consultation process, including ethical challenges, and rationale for who attends; and describe the service delivery and staffing model, and how each position/skill profile supports systemic support. Secondly, I will describe the Wellness Empowerment Program, a whole school mental health program serving two schools that exclusively educate Muslim students. I will examine: the community engagement and development process; describe the tiered service delivery approach, and provide some service examples, featuring family support and family counselling. Finally, I describe a model for conceptualizing systemic service delivery in schools, which has emerged from our project team’s experience delivering services: the InterSSCT (“intersect”) approach. The elements of InterSSCT are: interfaces between social systems, including formal and informal social structures (school and cultural communities); systems, the context in which services are delivered; skills – capacity building in students and school personnel, and school-based family counselors’ role in doing so; connections – school-based family counselors’ work to maximize connection between family members, between school and family, and within the school, to facilitate a sense of belonging and connection; transitions -- faltering through transitions (within the school day, throughout the school year, or between family life cycle stages) can contribute to problems. Participants will discuss how school-based counsellors can use “InterSSCT” to conceptualize and plan interventions.