Key Elements of a Successful Multi-System Collaboration for School-Based Mental Health: In-Depth Interviews with District and Agency Administrators

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The alarming number of youth with unmet mental health needs in the US is a significant social problem. The pilot school-based mental health project described here established an innovative multi-system partnership between an urban school district, a public mental health agency, and a local university to better meet the mental health needs of youth in one community. This qualitative study employed in depth interviews with six key administrators who were instrumental in developing and executing the project to explore the most important factors that promoted the successful collaboration. Results of the interviews identified five major themes: (a) perceptions of the project, (b) barriers to collaboration, (c) motivating factors, (d) sustainability, and (e) lessons learned. Findings may be especially helpful to other communities interested in establishing a multi-system intervention to support at risk youth. Implications for practice and research are discussed