An ecological model for school-based mental health services for urban low-income aggressive children

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Abstract

An ecological model for school-based mental health services that targets urban low-income aggressive children—a highly vulnerable and underserved population—is presented. The goals of the model are to increase children's and teachers' involvement in the delivery of services and to increase the integration of these services into existing school resources and activities. The model proposes that mental health service providers work in collaboration with teachers to deliver services that (1) can be managed by existing school resources and personnel, (2) are related to empirically based factors associated with reduced aggression and increased social functioning, and (3) are group administered to increase the number of children served and to reduce stigmatization associated with mental health services. The model is individualized and flexible by acknowledging that contexts for aggression differ across classrooms and children and by providing services specific to those contexts. Two studies are presented illustrating the application of this model to decrease aggression and increase academic engagement in low-income urban public schools.

Dolores Webster works in a private practice in Philadelphia.