National Center for Effective Mental Halth Consultation

Take Home Messages

  • Head Start program leaders play a key role in helping to develop, implement, and maintain a shared program vision for mental health services and mental health consultation. Leadership should strive to integrate a mental health perspective into all program components, inspiring staff to see mental health as part of everything they do.
  • Programs can strengthen their mental health services and consultation by working as a team to develop a mental health-specific strategic plan. The mental health strategic plan should be developed by a representative team, and include key program goals, activities, and timelines for improving mental health services and consultation. The mental health strategic plan should be a living document that is revisited and updated frequently.
  • Head Start program leaders can help ensure the success of early childhood mental health consultants by helping families and staff be "ready" to work with the consultant. Building staff readiness includes making sure staff understand their role in the consultative process, feeling comfortable accepting support from the consultant, and helping build positive relationships between staff and the consultant. Building family readiness includes making sure that families understand that the consultant's role is to help all families (non-stigmatizing), reframing the consultants work as supporting wellness, rather than "treatment" for mental health problems, and building opportunities for the consultant to meet and get to know families.
  • Program leaders need to ensure that mental health consultants have good supervision and support for their work. Many program consultants receive clinical supervision outside the Head Start program, but they should also have an in-house supervisor to work with to provide support specifically around working with staff and families at this Head Start program. Helping consultants get to know other early childhood mental health consultants can also be important to supporting the consultant professionally.

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Georgetown University Center for Child and Human Development National Center for Effective Mental Health Consultation