Enhancing Schools’ Capacity to Support Children in Poverty: An Ecological Model of School-Based Mental Health Services

  • Elise Cappella
  • Stacy L. Frazier
  • Marc S. Atkins
  • Sonja K. Schoenwald
  • Charles Glisson
Original Paper


School based mental health services for children in poverty can capitalize on schools’ inherent capacity to support development and bridge home and neighborhood ecologies. We propose an ecological model informed by public health and organizational theories to refocus school based services in poor communities on the core function of schools to promote learning. We describe how coalescing mental health resources around school goals includes a focus on universal programming, mobilizing indigenous school and community resources, and supporting core teaching technologies. We suggest an iterative research–practice approach to program adaptation and implementation as a means toward advancing science and developing healthy children.


School based mental health Childhood poverty Ecological models Indigenous resources Organizational theory 



This work was supported in part by National Institute of Mental Health grants R01MH073749, R34MH070637, and R21MH067361. Additional support was provided by the American Psychological Association/Institute of Education Sciences Postdoctoral Education Research Training fellowship under Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences grant number R305U030004. The manuscript content does not necessarily represent the positions or policies of the funding agencies. The authors gratefully acknowledge the contributions of the children, families, educators, mental health professionals, and researchers who have participated in this work.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Elise Cappella
    • 1
  • Stacy L. Frazier
    • 2
  • Marc S. Atkins
    • 2
  • Sonja K. Schoenwald
    • 3
  • Charles Glisson
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of Applied PsychologyNew York UniversityNew YorkUSA
  2. 2.University of Illinois at ChicagoChicagoUSA
  3. 3.Medical University of South CarolinaCharlestonUSA
  4. 4.University of TennesseeKnoxvilleUSA

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