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Toward a Comprehensive Policy Vision for Mental Health in Schools

  • Howard S. Adelman
  • Linda Taylor
Part of the Issues in Clinical Child Psychology book series (ICCP)

The process of developing formal policy is political and related to the enactment of laws, regulations, and guidelines. By way of contrast, informal “policies” emerge because of the way people in institutions pursue daily actions. These take the form of routines, customs, rules, and other regularities that determine what is and is not done in a setting, and those that endure over a lengthy period of time can be characterized as the institution's culture (Adelman et al, 1999)

Those who want to enhance mental health (mh) in schools often engage in advocating for policy change and for new policies. However, as the multitude of categorically funded programs in schools and communities demonstrates, advocacy in the absence of a comprehensive and cohesive policy vision tends to produce fragmented agendas. It is such fragmented agendas that produce piecemeal and simplistic approaches to complex, multifaceted concerns. Thus, our focus here is on a comprehensive policy vision that encompasses and reframes mh in schools. Our overarching aim is to highlight a unifying vision for policy and practice around which various policy advocates can coalesce

Specifically, the presentation covers three matters that those who want to enhance mh in schools should consider if they want to influence school policy in a fundamental way and on a large scale. We begin by highlighting current policy initiatives that shape how mh is addressed in schools and explore basic concerns arising from these initiatives. Then, from a policy perspective, we discuss the need to reframe the argument for mh in schools. Finally, we outline needed policy changes and the importance of connecting efforts to enhance mh in schools with school reform policy

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • Howard S. Adelman
    • 1
  • Linda Taylor
    • 1
  1. 1.UCLA Center for Mental Health in SchoolsLos Angeles

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