Then Came COVID-19
The emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic and the extended shutdown of schools further compounded the need for mental health assistance. Schools struggled to shift to virtual learning and fundamentally redesign instruction with little time to prepare. Students were isolated from their peers and other caring adults, such as teachers, coaches, and counselors, who were integral to their daily lives.
Source: CDC: Mental Health, Suicidality, and Connectedness Among High School Students During the COVID-19 Pandemic — Adolescent Behaviors and Experiences Survey, United States, January–June 2021
Source: CDC Foundation: Mental Health Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Teachers and Parents of K-12 Students (2021)
R14CC collaborated with TEA and their partners to provide comprehensive support to stakeholders at the school, district, regional, and state levels.
Texas School Mental Health Resources Database
In 2021, R14CC and TEA worked with 20 regional Education Services Centers (ESCs) to design a database to streamline data collection, better validate data quality, and publish publicly searchable results. In April 2022, the Texas School Mental Health Database was launched, allowing users to search for available resources within their region, county, and school district. This directly supports the goals of the Statewide Mental Health Plan.
Texas School Mental Health Practice Guide and Toolkit
R14CC joined stakeholders from TEA, Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC), and South-Southwest Mental Health Technology Transfer Center (SSW MHTTC) at the University of Texas (UT) at Austin to contribute to creating the Texas School Mental Health Practice Guide and Toolkit. The final product includes a statewide framework for school mental health, 47 tools, samples and templates, and comprehensive information to help practitioners implement the framework.
Texas School Mental Health Website
R14CC provided feedback on the new Texas School Mental Health Website and forthcoming Safe and Supportive School Programs virtual training modules developed by TEA's Project AWARE partners.
Collaborative Task Force on Public School Mental Health Services
House Bill 906 set up a new Collaborative Task Force on Public School Mental Health Services, which TEA administers. R14CC provided support as the task force worked on its required legislative report, including designing high-quality focus groups and providing facilitation training to members as part of data collection activities.