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It is widely estimated that approximately 25% of school age youth face mental and behavioral health challenges. The vast majority of these youth are insufficiently treated, leaving them vulnerable to negative school outcomes such as attendance, behavioral, and academic problems. One common barrier to treatment is a lack of access to appropriate and consistent care including assessment and intervention. Often when students are identified in schools as potentially struggling with mental health issues, the child is referred out to the community for treatment. While well-intended, this approach is largely unsuccessful if families face challenges such as a language barrier, a lack of transportation or health insurance, or lack of flexibility with their jobs leaving them unable to make appointments. A unique school–community partnership in North Carolina attempted to overcome these obstacles by bringing mental health services to youth at the school campuses. The School-Based Support program largely mitigated problems with access to care and made a positive impact on school outcomes for youth. This report from the field describes the consequences of untreated mental health problems among children, barriers to receiving mental health treatment, and ways student mental health needs are currently addressed in schools. We then detail how the School-Based Support program was formed through a school–community partnership, the program components, evaluation results, and a case example.


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