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Federal Commission on School Safety's Second Field Visit Explores Behavioral Health Integration in Schools

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Yesterday, the Federal Commission on School Safety (FCSS) held its second field visit at Adams-Friendship Middle School in Adams County, Wisconsin. The field visit focused on Wisconsin’s mental health framework, which enables local school districts to provide integrated behavioral health best practices to students. 

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, Assistant Secretary for Mental Health and Substance Use Elinore McCance-Katz, and representatives from the Federal Commission on School Safety toured Adams-Friendship Middle School to see the unique spaces used for behavioral health interventions and services. Following the tour, the Commission members and Wisconsin’s First Lady Tonette Walker participated in two panel presentations.

The first panel gave Commission members the opportunity to hear from state officials on Wisconsin’s School Mental Health Initiative’s efforts to augment behavioral health components during day-to-day school operations. One program highlighted was the Project Advancing Wellness and Resilience Education (AWARE), a grant program funded by the HHS’s Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). AWARE is designed to help state and local education agencies increase awareness of mental health issues among school-age youth; to train educators and other youth-serving adults to detect and respond to mental health issues; and to connect children, youth, and families who might experience behavioral health issues with appropriate services. 

The second panel, “Diverse Perspectives Make Our Work Better - A Panel of Youth, Parents, and Community Partners,” gave school leaders and community partners a chance to explain the process and positive impact of implementing an integrated mental health school based model that supports children who are at risk for or who are experiencing mental health conditions. Commission members also heard a story of resilience and personal triumph from one the school’s students. 

To view a video from the event, please visit:

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The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) is the agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) that leads public health efforts to advance the behavioral health of the nation. SAMHSA’s mission is to lead public health and service delivery efforts that promote mental health, prevent substance misuse, and provide treatments and supports to foster recovery while ensuring equitable access and better outcomes.

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