The State School Mental Health Profile: Findings from 25 States

J Sch Health. 2024 May;94(5):443-452. doi: 10.1111/josh.13442. Epub 2024 Feb 6.


Background: State-level leadership and conditions are instrumental to local and regional comprehensive school mental health system (CSMHS) quality, sustainability, and growth. However, systematic documentation of state-level school mental health (SMH) policy, infrastructure, funding, and practice is limited.

Methods: Using a multi-phase, multi-method process, we developed the State School Mental Health Profile (State Profile) to offer a comprehensive landscape of state SMH efforts. State leaders in 25 states completed the State Profile once over a 3-year data collection period. Mixed methods results are reported in 8 domains.

Results: State education agencies were reportedly most involved in SMH technical assistance, advocacy, leadership, funding, and service provision, with mental health agencies reported as second most involved. Nearly half of state respondents reported having a state-level SMH director or coordinator. Policies with the greatest perceived impact require implementation of and funding for SMH services and supports. Despite leveraging multiple sources of funding, most states emphasized lack of funding as a primary barrier to establishing CSMHSs. All states reported staffing shortages.

Conclusion: The State Profile can assist multi-agency state leadership teams to self-assess policy, infrastructure, and resources to support CSMHSs statewide. Findings point to areas of opportunity to advance equity across resource allocation, service provision, and policy development.

Keywords: child and adolescent health; mental and emotional health; mental health; policy; school climate, social and emotional; school funding; school health services.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Mental Health
  • Mental Health Services*
  • Policy Making
  • School Nursing*
  • Schools
  • United States