Thursday, November 2, 2023

The University of Iowa College of Education's Scanlan Center for School Mental Health and three other universities have been awarded a four-year, $10.4 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education to launch the Mental Health Evaluation, Training, Research, and Innovation Center for Schools (METRICS), a national center to scale up the school-based mental health workforce of PK-12 school psychologists, social workers, school counselors, and other practitioners.

As part of the multi-institution collaboration with the University of Wisconsin-Madison, the University of California-Santa Barbara, and the University of South Florida, UI’s Scanlan Center will coordinate and facilitate professional learning related to the initiative.

“Systems-level change is powered by collaboration and collectively leveraging expertise and resources,” says Allison Bruhn, professor of special education and Scanlan Center executive director. “That is why we are thrilled to partner with other institutions to build a stronger and more diverse school mental health workforce across the country. The work we have already done at the Scanlan Center, as well as the infrastructure we have built, are going to be critical to this venture.”

With robust professional learning programs already in place, the Scanlan Center is positioned to deliver training to support current and future school mental health providers not only in implementing evidence-based school mental health strategies and best practices, but also in cultivating a positive mental health culture within their districts and communities.

The trainings are set to roll out in Spring 2024 and will be offered via quarterly webinars and asynchronous online modules. School mental health professionals will engage in expert-led social-emotional-behavioral health sessions, including ECHO training for challenging behaviors; screening for suicide, trauma, and crisis; restorative practices; the dimensions of wellness; and building partnerships with families and community providers.

Additionally, participants will also attend the annual Iowa BEST (Behavioral, Equitable, Social-Emotional, Trauma-Informed Health in Schools) Summit, September 15-16, 2024 in Iowa City, Iowa.

In addition to Bruhn, Scanlan Center directors, Gerta Bardhoshi (director of research and training) and Kari Vogelgesang (director of professional development) will help design and disseminate the METRICS Center’s professional learning offerings.

The METRICS Center will support 264 new grantees of the U.S. Department of Education's two programs for increasing the number of mental health providers in schools—School-Based Mental Health (SBMH) and Mental Health Services Professionals (MHSP) - via a tiered approach: 1) universal supports; 2) targeted supports; and 3) intensive supports.

UW-Madison will lead METRICS Center oversight. Project team members from UC Santa Barbara and the University of South Florida will contribute to resource development, technical assistance, data evaluation, and coaching functions.

Read the full Department of Education announcement here.