ESMH Infrastructure

Schools should have in place a structured system of student supports (infrastructure) that connects schools and communities to sustain a multi-tiered approach to addressing student mental health. By building an infrastructure that connects schools and communities to support social and emotional needs, schools can take steps toward improved student achievement, attendance, behavior and general well-being.

An Expanded School Mental Health infrastructure includes effective internal structures that support student mental health (i.e. comprehensive school counseling programs, SAT teams, LSICs, crisis prevention & response teams, wellness teams, curriculum teams, etc.). Schools should ensure internal structures are aligned with policy requirements and best practices. Best practice ensures schools utilize a community schools approach connecting with external stakeholders to support school-wide prevention, targeted screening and early intervention, as well as, intensive treatment for students with the most serious challenges.

Principles that Support Effective ESMH Infrastructure


  • A philosophy/belief in the whole child: that physical and mental health is crucial to school success
  • Meaningful involvement at all levels of community agencies, parents, and students
  • Use of empirically based practices and tools
  • A continuous quality improvement process that establishes standards; and monitors and evaluates selected interventions, the school climate, and parent and student satisfaction
  • Planning that is data driven, strategic, assesses needs and strengths, has specific goals and objectives and is aligned with other school reform and community initiatives.

Structures and Processes that Support ESMH Infrastructure


  • A five year strategic plan that addresses social and emotional health
  • A district-level learning supports steering committee
  • A school-level learning supports team or improvement team
  • A school-level student assistance team that includes community agency staff
  • Team leaders responsible for facilitating and coordinating the work of all groups across district and school levels
  • A referral and follow up process that ensures accountability and traceability
  • Commitment of time, training and resources for planning and coordination within and among teams