Research shows that by the time they reach age 18, over a third of children and adolescents meet the criteria for a psychiatric disorder. However, only a small percentage of students with mental health problems receive the crucial special education services they need — in no small part due to a lack of qualified professionals.

Recognizing the critical need for more and better prepared scholars in this area, the U.S. Department of Education has awarded a $2.7 million grant to UC Santa Barbara and Boston University to fully fund a cohort of nine doctoral students: three in school psychology and three in special education at UCSB and three in special education at BU.

The project is known formally as TEAMS: Collaboration to Train Special Education and School Psychology Scholars to Advance Equity in the Study of Mental Health Among Students: A Special Education Leadership Preparation Program.

“Project TEAMS embraces so much of our core mission,” said Jeffrey Milem, the Jules Zimmer Dean’s Chair of Gevirtz Graduate School of Education. “Through this grant, we will teach leaders who will help build equitable communities.

“It will also help us transform school systems to better serve vulnerable populations, as we collaborate with interdisciplinary partners to conduct impactful, respectful, equity-serving and community-engaged service and research.” 

Special educators and school psychologists play a critical role in addressing mental health needs of all students, particularly because schools are where students are most likely to receive mental health interventions. Unfortunately, schools are simply unable to provide what these students need.

The National Association of School Psychologists recommends a ratio of one school psychologist per 500 students to provide comprehensive school psychological services. Current data estimates a national ratio of 1:1211.

School support for student mental health requires educators to be well prepared to use evidence-based interventions to support students’ social, emotional and behavioral development, and to prevent the development of emotional/behavioral disorders.

Project TEAMS will prepare leaders in special education and school psychology with a deep and wide range of services and research, including assessment and intervention related to students’ social, emotional and mental health needs; ecological systems serving culturally, linguistically and racially diverse students with emotional/behavioral disorders; methods to …….


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