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Center for Adolescent Health

Center for Adolescent Health Blog

Date: Sep 3, 2020

To increase the uptake of mental health support programs for students in middle schools it’s important for advocates to understand the individual, school-level and macro factors that lead administrators to adopt a program, according to a journal article from the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health Center for Adolescent Health’s (CAH) Project POWER initiative.

Using the trauma-informed universal prevention program RAP (Relax, be Aware, and do a Personal Rating) Club intervention adapted for low-income urban eighth-grade students – which consisted of two 45-minute sessions a week for six weeks) in 20 Baltimore City Public Schools, the researchers found that individual administrator, school-wide and macro (including district level) level factors went into whether an individual school adopted the intervention.

Published in the journal Prevention Science, the study “Factors that Influenced adoption of a School-Based Trauma-Informed Universal Mental Health Intervention” found that administrators with personal understanding of the trauma faced by their student community and need for intervention coupled with a lack of mental health supports for students in schools, and a school district that has said this issue is a priority made strong candidates for school-based adoption of a program.

“The study’s findings suggest strategies to increase school program adoption in the context of research and, more broadly, for implementation science,” the study’s authors – Kimberly T. Arnold, Keisha M. Pollack Porter, Shannon Frattaroli, Rachel E, Durham, Kristin Mmari, Laura K. Clary and Tamar Mendelson – write.

Read the study here.

See the Project POWER Report to Partners here

Our goal with the Project POWER (Promoting Options for Wellness and Emotion Regulation) school-based intervention is to evaluate the potential benefits of a trauma-informed coping skills program called RAP (Relax, be Aware, and do a Personal Rating) Club for the emotional health and academic success of eighth grade students.

We compared RAP Club with a health education program called Healthy Topics, which we expect will have different kinds of benefits. Over the past four years, our team partnered with 29 Baltimore City Public Schools. We worked with each school for one year to deliver the programs. We trained school personnel in how to continue offering the programs in the future if they wish. This is a brief update and summary of our work so far. We are starting to analyze data on how the programs impacted students and look forward to sharing outcomes with schools, families, and other audiences.

See our latest report to our partner schools below:

RAP Club infographicpg1

RAP Club infographicpg2

Study funders: Institute of Education Sciences (R305A160082; PI: Mendelson); Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (1R01HD090022; PI: Mendelson)