Building Policy Support for School Mental Health in Rural Areas



School mental health (SMH) programs that include expanded prevention and intervention programs and services through collaboration between education, mental health, and other youth serving systems are developing progressively in the United States (see Weist, M. D., Evans, S. W., & Lever, N. A. (2003). Handbook of school mental health: Advancing practice and research. New York: Springer; Evans, S., Weist, M., & Serpell, Z. (2007). Advances in school-based mental health interventions. Kingston, NJ: Civic Research Institute; Weist, M. D., Lever, N. A., Bradshaw, C. P., Owen, J. S. (2014). Handbook of school mental health, New York: Springer) and in other countries (see Kutcher, S., Wei, Y., & Weist, M. D. (2015). School mental health: Global challenges and opportunities. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press). Per the emphasis of this book, there is a particular need for and unique issues being encountered in delivering SMH in rural environments. In this chapter, we describe policy foundations for SMH in a small, southeastern state and focus on our work in one region characterized by high rurality and generally high poverty. We provide background information on emotional/behavioral challenges experienced by children and youth in this rural impoverished area (and in this region), discuss system-level challenges and innovative programs that are beginning to address these challenges, and offer recommendations for further system enhancement and expansion and improvement of school behavioral health services.

Key words

Children Adolescents Rural mental health School mental health Service barriers Disparities 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of South CarolinaColumbiaUSA
  2. 2.South Carolina Department of Mental HealthTri-County Community Mental Health CenterBennettsvilleUSA

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