In this paper, we propose an implementation science research agenda as it applies to school mental health (SMH). First, we provide an overview of important contextual issues to be considered when addressing research questions pertinent to the implementation of mental health interventions in schools. Next, we critically review three core implementation components: (a) professional development and coaching for school professionals regarding evidence-based practices (EBPs); (b) the integrity of EBPs implemented in schools; and (c) EBP sustainment under typical school conditions. We articulate research questions central to the next generation of research in each of these areas as well as methods to address such questions. Our intent in doing so is to contribute to a developing blueprint to guide community-research partnerships as well as funding agencies in their efforts to advance implementation science in SMH.
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These three topics were selected via a three-step process. First, the authors of the article identified a list of components and processes that have been identified in multiple models of IS research, as well as issues that have emerged in the context of each individual’s program of research. Second, the authors individually rank-ordered the topics, and then, the group discussed the rankings and reached a consensus. Third, to ensure that the topics were important and relevant to those in the practice of SMH and education, the topics were discussed with a variety of community partners (i.e., currently practicing SMH professionals and educators), and their feedback was incorporated.
Because many school professionals may implement a SMH intervention, henceforth we refer to all such professionals as “implementers” or “providers.”
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The authors would like to acknowledge Jan Fine, Jacqueline Griffeth, and Priscilla Petrosky, our school and community partners, who reviewed the paper and provided valuable feedback that was grounded in the realities of their daily work in schools. Julie S. Owens was supported by grants from the Department of Education, Institute of Educational Sciences (R305A110059; R324C080006; and R324A110232). This publication was made possible in part by funding from the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH; K08 MH095939), awarded to Aaron Lyon. Dr. Lyon is an investigator with the Implementation Research Institute (IRI), at the George Warren Brown School of Social Work, Washington University in St. Louis; through an award from the National Institute of Mental Health (R25 MH080916) and the Department of Veterans Affairs, Health Services Research & Development Service, Quality Enhancement Research Initiative (QUERI). Nicole Evangelista Brandt was partially supported by Project U45 MC 00174 from the Office of Adolescent Health, Maternal and Child Health Bureau (Title V, Social Security Act), Health Resources and Service Administration, Department of Health and Human Services. This work was partially supported by an NIMH Grant R01MH081881, awarded to Dr. Masia Warner. This work was partially supported by two NIMH Grants, K01 MH083694 (PI Nadeem) and P30 MH090322 (PI: Hoagwood).
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Owens, J.S., Lyon, A.R., Brandt, N.E. et al. Implementation Science in School Mental Health: Key Constructs in a Developing Research Agenda. School Mental Health 6, 99–111 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12310-013-9115-3
- Implementation science
- School mental health
- Professional development