BJC Behavioral Health (BJC BH) provides mental health support to St. Louis area school systems from early childhood through high school. This promotes early detection and treatment of psychiatric disorders, and educates school staff on ways to deal with mental health issues in the classroom.

Early intervention can disrupt the negative course of some mental illnesses and may lessen long-term disability. Children with serious mental health problems have the highest rate of school failure. Studies indicate that 50 percent of these students drop out of high school compared with 30 percent of all students with disabilities. Schools are mainly concerned with education. Mental health is essential to learning, and social and emotional development.

BJC BH has two school programs:

School Consultation Services

In partnership with the Special School District and seven St. Louis County school districts, school consultation services provide counseling for all students enrolled in Educational Support Program (ESP) classrooms within the schools. These classrooms provide a learning environment that also helps address emotional problems.

School consultation services are staffed by advance practice nurses (APN) with master's degrees and expertise in pediatrics, child and adolescent mental health issues. APNs provide a link between schools and mental health professionals treating the children. APNs also provide consultation to teachers and care teams regarding individual children not enrolled in ESP classrooms. They provide educational presentations on:

  • Childhood psychiatric disorders
  • Suicide prevention
  • Crisis response training
  • Conflict resolution
  • Community mental health services
  • The impact of emotional disorders on academic performance
  • Strategies to promote positive connections within the school

Embedded Clinical Staff

Embedded clinical staff provide individual counseling to students and their families. They provide a link to resources outside the school and community health services when appropriate. They facilitate psycho-educational groups, develop service learning projects and educate school staff on psychiatric disorders and positive ways to manage classroom behaviors. They are available for grief counseling after incidents involving students, families or staff. They also provide inservices to students and staff on issues that may affect emotional development such as bullying and intolerance. Staff are currently embedded in the Kirkwood School District and the Collaborative School.