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Miami University creates Center of Excellence to prioritize staff and student well-being in Ohio schools

10/3/2022

Miami University has been awarded $5 million through a partnership between the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (OhioMHAS) and the Ohio Department of Education to prioritize mental health and wellness for K-12 students and staff across the state.

The grant will enable Miami University to transform the Center for School-Based Mental Health Programs into a new School-Based Center of Excellence (SBCOE) for Prevention and Early Intervention to address an ongoing mental health crisis. 

The SBCOE will act as a hub to house a host of current and ongoing school-based mental health initiatives, statewide projects and multiyear projects, including the Ohio School Wellness Initiative (OSWI), which recently completed a 21-month plan to establish best practice standards for student assistance programs and staff wellness frameworks.

Currently, no other school-based center of excellence exists in Ohio. The funds provided by OhioMHAS will be used to facilitate a statewide SBCOE launch during the biennium budget cycle running from Aug. 1, 2022, through June 30, 2024.

The new $5 million grant follows the $6 million already provided to OSWI via Ohio’s Governor’s Emergency Education Relief (GEER) fund. The OhioMHAS Office of Prevention Services and Ohio Department of Education have been working closely with stakeholders to understand how they now can best address student and educator well-being and mental health needs. From that work, the offices have determined that Ohio needs to establish a Center of Excellence for School-Based Prevention & Early Intervention.

OSWI will continue to exist within the SBCOE by offering schools a newly established behavioral health and wellness model that already has been piloted in more than 70 Ohio K-12 schools.

Alongside OSWI, the SBCOE will oversee several additional plans and projects including:

  • Supporting a workforce development program to address the shortage of K-12 mental health providers by providing training and support for aspiring and existing professionals;
  • Facilitating key collaborative partnerships among educational institutions, professional organizations and businesses that have a vested interest in the well-being of families, children, students and schools across communities;
  • Identifying additional areas that need further positive behavioral interventions and supports such as new anti-bullying lessons and campaigns;
  • Establishing more services for students who need extra support, as well as for those with previously diagnosed mental health or substance use issues who may need intensive individualized services;
  • Conducting ongoing research and evaluation to identify the supports students receive, the range services being offered and the effectiveness of related outcomes.