Center for Rural School Health & Education Launches Community-University Partnership to meet the mental health needs of rural youth

DENVER – The Center for Rural School Health & Education (CRSHE) at the University of Denver Morgridge College of Education has been funded by the Colorado Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute to create a taskforce to address and combat the growing youth mental health crisis. Called the Community-University Partnership (CUP), the taskforce is comprised of 11 individuals with expertise in the areas of San Luis Valley K-12 schools and mental health services, evidence-based practices to promote student health and wellness, community-based participatory research, culturally and linguistically responsive mental health services, adverse childhood  experiences, positive youth development, and resiliency. The goal is to create a community informed, data driven, evidence-based action plan that can be implemented across all 14 San Luis Valley school districts to improve the social-emotional health of all San Luis Valley K-12 students.

 

“I was thrilled to find out we were funded and couldn’t wait to share the good news with our San Luis Valley Community Advisory Board,” said Dr. Elaine Belansky, CRSHE director and lead academic partner from Morgridge College. “The board went through an extensive ‘Year of Learning’ process that culminated in a decision to establish an upstream approach to addressing adverse childhood experiences. While the community has many assets, it also faces challenges of poverty and opioid addiction. This grant gives us the opportunity to take an important next step in making sure students have the coping and life skills they need to be healthy and happy.”

 

The action plan will include strategies related to 1) professional development for teachers on trauma-informed instruction, self-care to avoid teacher burnout and compassion fatigue, and meeting mental health needs of students; 2) evidence-based practices to implement in schools such as social emotional learning curricula to build youth resiliency, communication skills, and positive self-esteem; 3) systems-level strategies to align, coordinate, and leverage resources across key partners; 4) strategies to address the mental health workforce shortage by increasing clinical services through innovative partnerships with universities. Once the action plan has been established, the taskforce will develop a separate grant proposal to implement.

 

The long-term goal is to equip teachers with the knowledge and skills they need to support children’s social-emotional needs in the classroom, increase mental health clinical services by finding creative ways for universities to partner with communities, and help children obtain the knowledge and skills they need to be healthy and happy individuals.

 

The taskforce will begin its work this summer.

 

Community Partner: Clarissa Woodworth, Operations Director of Center for Restorative Programs

Academic Researcher:  Elaine Belansky, Director of Center for Rural School Health & Education

Funding period:  May 1, 2019-April 30, 2020, Funded by the Colorado Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute

 

 

 

About DU’s Morgridge College of Education(MCE): MCE is a graduate college of education dedicated to creating positive change by unleashing the power of learning. The college infuses social justice, diversity and inclusion across its 23 advanced degrees in higher ed, teacher prep, public policy, special ed, counseling psychology, research methods, and information science.

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