CHOP Launches New Partnership with Chester, Delaware & Montgomery County Intermediate Units to Strengthen School Mental Health Services

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Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) is excited to announce the launch of the CHOP Tri-County School Mental Health Consortium (SMHC). The SMHC is a collaboration between CHOP researchers from PolicyLab and the Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences (DCAPBS) and the Chester, Delaware and Montgomery County Intermediate Units (IUs). In Pennsylvania, IUs serve as regional education agencies that provide operational and instructional services to school districts and non-public/private schools.

Supported by a four-year grant funded by the Pennsylvania Department of Health’s Commonwealth Universal Research Enhancement (CURE) Program, the goal of the project is to build upon existing initiatives to strengthen school- and district-level capacity to implement, evaluate, and sustain school mental health promotion and prevention efforts, otherwise known as Tier 1 and Tier 2 services.

“Addressing the significant increase in mental health concerns among youth that we have witnessed since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic requires innovative, partnered solutions,” said Jami Young, PhD, a psychologist and associate chair of research in CHOP’s DCAPBS and a faculty member at CHOP’s PolicyLab. “Because schools are where kids spend most of their time outside of home, they are an important venue for programs that can prevent, spot and address early signs of mental health challenges. In forming partnerships between the research and educational communities, efforts like the SMHC can help schools sustain evidence-based programming to support positive youth mental health.”

The project will begin with a survey of school district representatives about current school mental health programming across their district and areas of priority, which will be followed by interviews or focus groups with district and school staff to gather more information. These data will inform which programs the SMHC will focus on for mental health programming, as well as strategies to support implementation.

In later years, the SMHC will partner with participating schools and districts to help them plan, implement, and evaluate the selected evidence-based prevention and early intervention programs. Additionally, the SMHC, including researchers and policy experts from PolicyLab, will work to identify opportunities for sustainable funding of Tier 1 and 2 school-based mental health programs.
CHOP is committed to addressing the youth behavioral health crisis in our community and beyond. This project will pair researchers, behavioral health specialists from DCAPBS, policy experts, and education leaders, working toward a shared goal of all children in the tri-county area receiving evidence-based prevention programs that invest in their long-term mental health.

Many across CHOP have partnered with schools on various research and clinical initiatives. CHOP worked extensively with area schools during the COVID-19 pandemic to provide guidance on mitigation strategies and, later, to offer COVID-19 testing through Project ACE-IT. “The SMHC is a result of the strong partnerships formed with our local schools before and during the pandemic and is part of CHOP’s commitment to address youth mental health challenges among our patients and within our community,” said David Rubin, MD, MSCE, director of CHOP’s PolicyLab.

Learn more about the CHOP Tri-County School Mental Health Consortium here.

Contact: Kaitlyn Tivenan, The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, 267-426-8614 or

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