The path to a healthy school climate & culture: mental health accreditation
Over the past couple of years, mental wellness support in schools has expanded exponentially. What was once a perk only found in forward-thinking schools is becoming mainstream, and is now recommended by the American Psychological Association and expected by the U.S. DOE.
At this point, school leaders recognize that mental wellness is foundational for both empowering and retaining teachers and staff, and for improving students’ ability to learn and achieve academic success. The question is, how can you develop, implement, and measure programs that improve well-being and deliver the desired results for your school, staff, students, and community? School districts are challenged due to a lack of standards and best practices to help them meet this growing need.
That’s why Thrive Alliance Group is launching a new Mental Wellness AccreditationTM that establishes proven standards and benchmarks for school mental wellness. It’s a program that supports and guides school districts on their journey to building a healthy climate and culture where everyone can reach their potential.
Accreditation will be offered nationwide to all schools (public, private and charter) beginning in the fall of 2022.
What is mental health accreditation for schools?
In general, accreditation is a formal, independent verification by a qualified third party that a school has met certain benchmarks. Thrive Mental Wellness AccreditationTM is an ongoing validation process for school-based mental wellness, developed and conducted by highly qualified experts, that verifies the following:
- The school or district has met proven quality standards and benchmarks related to mental health and wellness throughout the school community
- The school or district has the competence and level of commitment to results to complete regular self-assessments to measure progress and maintain mental health accreditation
Why consider mental health accreditation for your school or district?
Because the idea of mental health accreditation is so new, schools might not fully appreciate everything they stand to gain, not only from having mental health accreditation in place but also from the process of earning it.
The accreditation process requires schools to implement supports and actively build and nurture a mental wellness climate and culture, including:
- Defining school and district-wide values
- Making a commitment to prioritizing mental wellness for students and staff
- Developing and executing an action plan that balances academics with social emotional learning
- Achieving widespread stakeholder representation and buy-in
- Measuring progress, updating plans, and maintaining adherence to standards
Going through this process helps teachers, administrators, and other staff to become happier, more committed, and more effective in their work. Students become happier, more engaged, more focused, and ultimately more successful academically. The accreditation process also helps districts to lower costs associated with placing struggling students in expensive out-of-district programs. And it helps schools to keep and develop their most important assets: their talented staff members.
Earning and maintaining accreditation also provides schools with powerful proof of their commitment to supporting the mental wellness of the school community. Parents gain peace of mind with the knowledge that their child’s school is fully qualified to nurture their child’s growth and development into a successful member of society.
The requirements for earning Thrive Mental Wellness AccreditationTM
To begin working toward accreditation, your school or district must create a planning team, designate an accreditation officer, and implement a district-wide mental wellness development plan with components like these:
- Staff growth and development with targeted content and coaching that helps teachers, counselors and administrators to recognize and respond to mental health issues
- Accountability mechanisms in areas such as commitment to diversity, reduction in student substance abuse, and reporting of concerns for student safety
- Building staff morale by fostering voice, choice, recognition, and appreciation for school staff members across the district and at all levels
- Building student engagement and satisfaction levels by fostering student voice, choice, and recognition and increasing social connection
- Parent education about mental health issues, along with activities that engage parents with school in general and help parents adopt strategies that support the mental wellness of their children
Thrive experts will guide your team in the development of your customized accreditation plan, and approve it prior to implementation.
To earn Thrive Mental Wellness AccreditationTM, your school or district must achieve the following based on completion of your program components:
- A portion of your school staff have become Certified School Mental-Wellness Specialists™ through Thrive’s Training, Coaching and Certification program
- Delivered a minimum of 5 hours of mental wellness PD per year to all school or district staff members
- Provided parent training and workshops on mental health at least two times per year
- Certified staff members actively participating in ongoing development to maintain certification
- Delivered required reporting on progress and adhering to standards and benchmarks
Thrive offers professional development and parent training content to our school partners, but you are also free to use other resources and/or develop your own content.
The amount of time it takes to earn accreditation will depend on the district and how much you have already achieved. As you work toward accreditation, you will receive recognition for participating in the program and making progress toward building your mental wellness climate and culture goals.
Why Thrive Alliance Group?
If you don’t already know Thrive, you may be wondering about Thrive Alliance Group’s qualifications to set the benchmark for school mental wellness, guide schools toward climate and culture development, and ultimately grant accreditation.
Thrive has been implementing a variety of school-based mental health support programs for more than 30 years. Our organization has both a depth of expertise and a broad range of skills in the fields of education, clinical mental health services, and national certification and accreditation development and implementation, including:
- District, school, and department administration (including running therapeutic schools and public school departments of special services)
- Mental health counseling and intervention in schools and in the community
- Obtaining and managing program funding
- Teaching (both special education and general education)
- Developing and managing national accreditation and certification programs
- Leading accreditation teams and evaluating schools
To learn more about Thrive Mental Wellness AccreditationTM for schools, contact Jon Brandt, Thrive’s Board Chairman, at firstname.lastname@example.org.