This study expands on the information collected from the 2015-2016 National Census of School Based Health Centers (SBHCs) by identifying the range of school based behavioral health services. The study determined the following:

  1. Types of behavioral health services offered;
  2. Common Characteristics of the school-based health workforce;
  3. Common characteristics of the schools and populations served;
  4. Funding sources and associated barriers to service delivery; and
  5. Partnership opportunities.

In addition to collecting information from the National Census, the BHWRC worked to generate and disseminate a survey for both “designated” and “non-designated” school based health centers to further build upon information available through the Census of School Based Health Centers.


The findings from this research indicate that SBHCs and non-designated centers fill a critical role in providing a range of behavioral health services for students of all ages. Regardless of the setting, a staffing structure that incorporates behavioral health providers strengthens the center and increases the value-add of including preventative mental health and substance use supports during a crucial age for developing problems in these areas. Also, building sustainable partnerships and leveraging existing funding mechanisms are critical for the success of these organizations. To improve the behavioral health services provided within SBHCs and nondesignated centers, the following recommendations should be considered: (1) encourage states to leverage
current state funding infrastructures, including 1115 waivers that support innovate practices to support the work of Medicaid; (2) focus on building partnerships with both school officials and behavioral health providers in the community and seek out funding that supports these partnerships such as the Delivery System Reform Incentive Payment (DSRIP) waivers; (3) continue to support and expand mental health awareness programs, such as Youth Mental Health First Aid, that support and foster readiness to learn for all students; and (4) collaborate and/or partner with a Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinic (CCBHC) to increase student access to mental health and addiction services and treatment.


Behavioral Health Services in School-Based Settings

Policy Brief
Full Report


National Council for Behavioral Health


Dana M. Foney, PhD, MS
Megan Dormond, MPH
Jessica Buche, MPH, MA