The Effects of Practitioner-Delivered School-Based Mental Health on Aggression and Violence Victimization in Middle Schoolers

  • Antonio A. Morgan-LopezEmail author
  • Lissette M. Saavedra
  • Anna C. Yaros
  • James V. Trudeau
  • Alex Buben
Original Paper


The negative consequences for victims and perpetrators of school violence are significant, multifaceted and, if left unchecked, can have personal costs that may last well into their adult lives. Universal violence preventive interventions may not be sufficiently effective in mitigating problems among middle school youth who exhibit risk of violent behavior. School-based mental health (SBMH) approaches show promise for reducing problems among the minority of youth responsible for violence perpetration, although the impact of teacher-delivered SBMH has been somewhat limited. The present study examines the impact of practitioner-delivered SBMH in middle school settings, with (a) a three-armed randomized controlled trial (RCT) comparing Expanded SBMH and Enhanced SBMH to Standard SBMH and (b) a separate quasi-experiment comparing the three SBMH arms in the RCT to a separate set of non-randomized, non-SBMH schools. SBMH schools who expanded their services saw decreases in aggressive behavior and victimization, across both study structures, that were either statistically significant, meaningful based on Cohen effect size conventions or both. These results suggest that the expansion of practitioner-delivered mental health services to youth who are at risk of violence perpetration, but would otherwise be ineligible for, or unable to afford, services achieves a significant impact on the larger school environment.


School-based mental health Aggression Victimization Practitioners Middle school 



Funding for the project was provided by Grant Number 2015-CK-BX-0010 by the National Institute of Justice under the Comprehensive School Safety Initiative (James V. Trudeau, PI)

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

The research was approved by an institutional review board. We warrant that the material contained in the manuscript represents original work, has not been published elsewhere and is not under concurrent consideration for publication elsewhere. Further, we have complied with the American Psychological Association Ethical Standards in the treatment of the participants.

Informed consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in this study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Antonio A. Morgan-Lopez
    • 1
    Email author
  • Lissette M. Saavedra
    • 1
  • Anna C. Yaros
    • 1
  • James V. Trudeau
    • 1
  • Alex Buben
    • 1
  1. 1.Behavioral Health Research DivisionRTI InternationalResearch Triangle ParkUSA

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