Addressing Unique Ethical and Legal Challenges in Expanded School Mental Health

  • Christine A. Prodente
  • Mark A. Sander
  • Chandra Grabill
  • Marcia Rubin
  • Nadine Schwab
Part of the Issues in Clinical Child Psychology book series (ICCP)

As the school mental health movement and related prevention efforts have grown, this has paved the way for increased collaboration among educators, school mental health professionals, and community-based practitioners such as clinical psychologists, social workers, psychiatrists, nurses, counselors, and supervised trainees (Flaherty et al., 1998). An emergent aspect of this interdisciplinary approach to mental health care, however, is the lack of clarity about which professional codes and licensing statutes should serve as the guideline for appropriate professional conduct within school mental health programs. In this chapter (as in others in the book), we use the term expanded school mental healthto refer to school-based programs that involve schools working in Partnership with community agencies and programs to provide a full array of mental health care and special education to youth in general (Weist, 1997). Since expanded school mental health providers are located within, but are not necessarily employed by, the school, they must navigate a difficult course through professional ethics codes, state and federal mandates (both health and education), local school board policies, and the policies of their employing agencies. Addressing such issues as client confidentiality and parental consent within the school setting, while maintaining collaborative relationships with the school staff, for example, can be very challenging

The goals of this chapter are to (1) identify factors contributing to the confusion regarding the professional obligations of expanded school mental health providers, (2) highlight some of the unique liability and ethical issues related to providing mental health services in the schools, and (3) provide suggestions for addressing these concerns. It is beyond the scope of this chapter to discuss every ethical and legal challenge that may occur when working in school settings. Rather, the chapter will focus on those ethical and legal issues specific to expanded school mental health programs. The chapter is meant to provide a stimulus for further discussion by mental health providers, educators, and policymakers


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • Christine A. Prodente
    • 1
  • Mark A. Sander
    • 2
  • Chandra Grabill
    • 3
  • Marcia Rubin
    • 4
  • Nadine Schwab
    • 5
  1. 1.Partial Hospitalization Program, Medical College of OhioKobacker CenterToledoOhio
  2. 2.University of Maryland School of MedicineBaltimoreMaryland
  3. 3.Dekalb County SchoolsDecaturGeorgia
  4. 4.American School Health AssociationKentOhio
  5. 5.Westport Public SchoolsWestportConnecticut

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