As we reflect on Mental Health Month (May), the DPS Foundation would like to highlight some of the mental health programs soon to be implemented in Detroit Public Schools Community District (DPSCD).

School-based mental health resources are necessary in all schools, but even more necessary in urban environments. Low income children whose families struggle with finances are more likely to experience trauma and chronic medical issues, and less likely to receive the health care needed to address them. Further, students with behavioral health issues are statistically likely to have up to three times as many missed days of school, leading to chronic absenteeism. In-school and after-school behavioral health supports can help to bridge the gap in necessary mental health care.

Longstanding District partner, Detroit Wayne Mental Health Authority will soon be expanding wraparound services by placing a dedicated health staff (which will include a social worker, school counselor, community-based mental health provider, and school nurse) in six pilot schools, giving students access to on-site health services and educators access to mental health trainings. Dedicated staff will be able to track students’ physical and emotional health, starting with a universal initial screening and continuing with one-on-one, specific follow-up care. Over time, this program aims to expand into additional schools to make DPSCD’s student population healthier and more productive, which will lead to lower rates of absenteeism and better academic success.

DPSCD is also working with the University of Michigan TRAILS Program to complete an extensive needs assessment of mental health and necessary health services within the District. TRAILS is currently collecting data from a number of sources, including student and parent surveys investigating personal, anecdotal experiences, as well as public data from school profiles. This mix of data will be analyzed by the University of Michigan’s Youth Policy Lab. The results will allow the District to make informed policy decisions regarding the placement and type of mental health resources needed moving forward.