This paper describes the development of the School Mental Health Capacity Instrument, a new measure designed to capture the extent to which a school is proactive in its approach to addressing mental health. The instrument assesses the policies, systems, and activities a school has in place related to intervention, early recognition and referral, and prevention and promotion. We share preliminary psychometric information about the instrument, including its excellent internal consistency, good test–retest stability, and evidence of criterion-related validity. The instrument has broad applicability for use by researchers and evaluators. In addition, consultants could use the instrument’s findings as a guide to helping schools become increasingly proactive in the way they address student mental health.
This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Price includes VAT for USA
Subscribe to journal
Immediate online access to all issues from 2019. Subscription will auto renew annually.
This is the net price. Taxes to be calculated in checkout.
Adelman, H. L., & Taylor, L. (2006). Mapping a school’s resources to improve their use in preventing and ameliorating problems. In C. Franklin, M. B. Harris, & P. Allen-Meares (Eds.), The school services sourcebook: A guide for social workers, counselors, and mental health professionals (pp. 977–990). Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.
Aspinwall, L. G., Sechrist, G. B., & Jones, P. R. (2005). Expect the best and prepare for the worst: Anticipatory coping and preparations for Y2 K. Motivation and Emotion, 29(4), 357–388.
Aspinwall, L. G., & Taylor, S. E. (1997). A stitch in time: Self-regulation and proactive coping. Psychological Bulletin, 121(3), 417–436.
Atkins, M. S., Frazier, S. L., Birman, D., Abdul-Adil, J., Jackson, M., Graczyk, P. A., et al. (2006). School-based mental health services for children living in high-poverty urban communities. Administration and Policy in Mental Health and Mental Health Services, 33(2), 146–159.
Bartko, J. J. (1976). On various intraclass correlation reliability coefficients. Psychological Bulletin, 83(4), 762–765.
Battistich, V., Schaps, E., & Wilson, N. (2004). Effects of an elementary school intervention on students’ “connectedness” to school and social adjustment during middle school. The Journal of Primary Prevention, 24(3), 243–262.
Brand, S., Felner, R. D., Shim, M., Seitsinger, A., & Dumas, T. (2003). Middle school improvement and reform: Development and validation of a school-level assessment of climate, cultural pluralism, and school safety. Journal of Educational Psychology, 95(3), 570–588.
Brener, N. D., Pejavara, A., Barrios, L. C., Crossett, L., Lee, S. M., McKenna, M., et al. (2006). Applying the School Health Index to a nationally representative sample of schools. Journal of School Health, 76(2), 57–66.
Brown, J. L., Roderick, J., Lantieri, L., & Aber, J. L. (2004). The resolving conflict creatively program: A school-based social and emotional learning program. In J. Zins, R. P. Weissberg, M. C. Wang, & H. J. Walberg (Eds.), Building academic success on social and emotional learning: What does the research say? (pp. 151–169). New York: Teachers College Press.
Buckner, J. C. (1988). The development of an instrument to measure neighborhood cohesion. American Journal of Community Psychology, 16(6), 771–791.
Caplan, G. (1964). Principles of preventive psychiatry. New York: Basic Books.
Crant, J. M. (2000). Proactive behavior in organizations. Journal of Management, 26(3), 435–462.
Flaherty, L. T., & Weist, M. D. (1999). School-based mental health services: The Baltimore models. Psychology in the Schools, 36(5), 379–389.
Flannery, K. B., Sugai, G., & Anderson, C. M. (2009). School-wide positive behavior support in high school: Early lessons learned. Journal of Positive Behavior Interventions, 11(3), 177–185.
Flaspohler, P., Duffy, J., Wandersman, A., Stillman, L., & Maras, M. A. (2008). Unpacking prevention capacity: An intersection of research-to-practice models and community-centered models. American Journal of Community Psychology, 41(3–4), 182–196.
Glisson, C., & Hemmelgarn, A. (1998). The effects of organizational climate and interorganizational coordination on the quality and outcomes of children’s service systems. Child Abuse and Neglect, 22(5), 401–421.
Glisson, C., Landsverk, J., Schoenwald, S., Kelleher, K., Hoagwood, K., Mayberg, S., et al. (2008). Assessing the organizational social context (OSC) of mental health services: Implications for research and practice. Administration and Policy in Mental Health and Mental Health Services, 35, 98–113.
Gottfredson, G. D. (1984). The effective school battery: Student survey. Odessa, FL: Psychological Assessment Resources, Inc.
Greenberg, M. T. (2003). Enhancing school-based prevention and youth development through coordinated social, emotional, and academic learning. American Psychologist, 58(6/7), 466–477.
Greenberg, M. T., Domitrovich, C., & Bumbarger, B. (2001). The prevention of mental disorders in school-aged children: Current state of the field. Prevention and Treatment, 4, Article 1. Retrieved 23 June 2009, from http://journals.apa.org.ezp-prod1.hul.harvard.edu/prevention/volume4/pre0040001a.html.
Hoagwood, K. E., Olin, S. S., Kerker, B. D., Kratochwill, T. R., Crowe, M., & Saka, N. (2007). Empirically school based interventions targeted at academic and mental health functioning. Journal of Emotional and Behavioral Disorders, 15(2), 66–92.
Hobfoll, S. E. (1989). Conservation of resources: A new attempt at conceptualizing stress. American Psychologist, 44(3), 513–524.
Horner, R. H., Todd, A. W., Lewis-Palmer, T., Irvin, L. K., Sugai, G., & Boland, J. B. (2004). The school-wide evaluation tool: A research instrument for assessing school-wide positive behavior support. Journal of Positive Behavior Interventions, 6(1), 3.
Hoy, W. K. (1990). Organizational climate and culture: A conceptual analysis of the school workplace. Journal of Educational and Psychological Consultation, 1(2), 149–168.
James, L. R. (1982). Aggregation bias estimate of perceptual agreement. Journal of Applied Psychology, 67(2), 215–231.
Johnson, K. (2000). School crisis management: A hands-on guide to training crisis response teams (2nd ed.). Alameda, CA: Hunter House.
Jorm, A. G., Korten, A. E., Jacomb, P. A., Christensen, H., Rodgers, B., & Pollitt, P. (1997). “Mental health literacy”: A survey of the public’s ability to recognize mental disorders and their beliefs about the effectiveness of treatment. Medical Journal of Australia, 166(4), 182–186.
Joyce, W. F., & Slocum, J. W. (1984). Collective climate: Agreement as a basis for defining aggregate climate in organizations. Academy of Management Journal, 27(4), 721–742.
Kusche, C. A., & Greenberg, M. T. (1994). The PATHS curriculum. Seattle: Developmental Research and Programs, Inc.
Levitt, J. M., Saka, N., Romanelli, L. H., & Hoagwood, K. (2007). Early identification of mental health problems in schools: The status of instrumentation. Journal of School Psychology, 45(2), 163–191.
Mallett, R. K., & Swim, J. K. (2005). Bring it on: Proactive coping with discrimination. Motivation and Emotion, 29(4), 411–441.
Massachusetts Department of Education. (2007). from http://profiles.doe.mass.edu/districts.asp.
McLaughlin, M. J., Leone, P. E., Meisel, S., & Henderson, K. (1997). Strengthen school and community capacity. Journal of Emotional and Behavioral Problems, 5(1), 15–23.
Moos, R. H. (1979). Framework for evaluating environments. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers.
Mrazek, P. J., & Haggerty, R. J. (1994). Reducing risks for mental disorders: Frontiers for preventive intervention research. Washington, DC: National Academy Press.
National Research Council and Institute of Medicine of the National Academies. (2009). Preventing mental, emotional, and behavioral disorders among young people (Document). Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.
New Freedom Commission on Mental Health. (2003). Achieving the promise: Transforming mental health care in America. Final report. (Document Number SMA-03-3832). Rockville, MD: Department of Health and Human Services.
Noam, G. G., & Hermann, C. A. (2002). Where education and mental health meet: Developmental prevention and early intervention in schools. Development and Psychopathology, 14, 861–875.
Perry, C. M. (1999). Proactive thoughts on creating safe schools. The School Community Journal, 9(1), 9–16.
Revenson, T. A., D’Augelli, A. R., French, S. E., Hughes, D. L., Livert, D., Seidman, E., et al. (Eds.). (2002). Ecological research to promote social change: Methodological advances from community psychology. New York: Kluwer Academic/Plenum Publishers.
Roeser, R. W., & Midgley, C. (1997). Teachers’ views of issues involving students’ mental health. The Elementary School Journal, 98(2), 115–133.
Rones, M., & Hoagwood, K. E. (2000). School-based mental health services: A review. Clinical Child and Family Psychology Review, 3(4), 223–241.
School Development Project. (2001). School climate survey. New Haven: Yale Child Study Center.
Shrout, P. E., & Fleiss, J. L. (1979). Intraclass correlations: Uses in assessing rater reliability. Psychological Bulletin, 86(2), 420–428.
Staten, L. K., Teufel-Shone, N. I., Steinfelt, V. E., Ortega, N., Halverson, K., Flores, C., et al. (2005). The School Health Index as an impetus for change. Preventing Chronic Disease. [serial online] from http://www.cdc.gov/pcd/issues/2005/jan/04_0076.htm.
Stockard, J., & Mayberry, M. (1992). Effective educational environments. Newbury Park, CA: Corwin Press, Inc.
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2007). Community mental health services program for children and their families: Key outcomes for children and families in systems of care. from http://systemsofcare.samhsa.gov/news/datafactsheet.aspx Retrieved February 11, 2008.
Trickett, E. J., & Moos, R. H. (1973). Social environment of junior high and high school classrooms. Journal of Educational Psychology, 65(1), 93–102.
Tseng, V., & Seidman, E. (2007). A systems framework for understanding social settings. American Journal of Community Psychology, 39, 217–228.
U. S. Department of Health and Human Services. (1999). Mental health: A report of the Surgeon General (Document). Rockville, MD: U. S. Department of Health and Human Services.
USAID Center for Development Information and Evaluation. (2000). Measuring institutional capacity.
Watts, C. L., & Buckner, J. C. (2007). Children’s Hospital Neighborhood Partnerships: A model for service delivery and systems change through school-community-university collaboration. The Community Psychologist, 40, 26–29.
Weist, M. D., Sander, M. A., Walrath, C., Link, B., Nabors, L., Adelsheim, S., et al. (2005). Developing principles for best practice in expanded school mental health. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 34(1), 7–13.
Weist, M. D., Stephan, S., Lever, N., Moore, E., & Lewis, K. (2006). School mental health quality assessment questionnaire (SMHQAQ). Baltimore: Center for School Mental Health Analysis & Action.
Zins, J. E., Bloodworth, M. R., Weissberg, R. P., & Walberg, H. J. (2004). The scientific base linking social and emotional learning to school success. In J. Zins, R. P. Weissberg, M. C. Wang, & H. J. Walberg (Eds.), Building academic success on social and emotional learning: What the research says. New York: Teachers College Press.
This work was supported, in part, by funding from the Aetna Foundation and the Harvard University Provost’s Fund. The authors would like to thank Kristen Bonistall, Danielle Goldman, Jennifer Gorcos, Jennifer Masdea, Christina Nikitopoulos, and Jessica Waters for their assistance with data collection and entry, as well as Peter Forbes for his statistical consultation.
About this article
Cite this article
Feigenberg, L.F., Watts, C.L. & Buckner, J.C. The School Mental Health Capacity Instrument: Development of an Assessment and Consultation Tool. School Mental Health 2, 142–154 (2010). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12310-010-9041-6
- School mental health
- Ecological assessment