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Initially a pilot program within the southeastern regional hub of the Massachusetts Child Psychiatry Access Project (MCPAP), which offers psychiatric consultation services to pediatricians, the McLean School Nurse Liaison Project (MSNLP) strives to offer similar support to promote pediatric mental health in schools. Recognizing school staff as key players in the health and well-being of school children, MSNLP offers educational and consultation services, at no cost to the districts served.
The MSNLP employs a full-time advanced practice nurse with extensive pediatric psychiatry experience who offers enrolled schools education, resources, and consultation. The program promotes collaboration between departments within school systems and between school nurses in different towns throughout southeastern Massachusetts. It works to support school staff in managing behavioral issues in the schools, to encourage increased respect and compassion for people struggling with mental illness, and to promote practices in schools which foster the proactive development of healthy coping skills and improved mental health.
For more information about our program, please contact the McLean School Nurse Liaison Project at 774.419.1186.
The MSNLP offers in-service professional development trainings at schools throughout the southeast region. These trainings cover topics identified as areas of greatest need and are attended by school nurses, guidance counselors, adjustment counselors, school social workers, school psychologists, teachers, and administrators.
Trainings are developed in response to school nurses’ requests for education on specific topics. Current presentations offered include psychiatric medications in schools, developing coping skills, understanding ADHD, anxiety, and/or depression, substance abuse and motivational interviewing, LGBTQ issues in schools, stigma of mental illness, and self-harming behavior. New trainings are prepared based on identified areas of interest.
The MSNLP maintains a library of websites and printable materials. School staff can contact the MSNLP with any expressed need and receive materials which can then be offered to families, students, and staff regarding a wide range of topics related to mental health issues and treatment. We also assist school staff in accessing educational resources to utilize in developing skills and knowledge regarding mental and behavioral health care.
The MSNLP also works to assist schools in developing databases of referral resources in their geographic area to offer to staff and families seeking options for treatment and enrichment activities.
A pediatric nurse practitioner with extensive experience in both psychiatric nursing and school nursing is available by phone throughout the school day. School nurses and other school staff can call with any questions regarding mental health issues, including diagnosis, medications, standards of care, etc. Confidentiality is maintained by excluding identifiable information from the discussion.
The consultant offers support and suggestions regarding managing student behavioral issues, collaboration with families, staff, and outside providers, and promoting mental health in the school setting. Useful materials and resources may be sent and follow up discussions provide ongoing support and information as situations continue to change and develop.
For schools in public school districts, the school nurse leader contacts the MSNLP for information and enrollment forms. Once an agreement letter is signed by the superintendent and the nurse leader and returned with a contact list of school nurses, the MSNLP provides the school with instructions for utilizing the services. Annual renewal requires only the signature of the nurse leader and an updated list of nurses.
Private and parochial schools, as well as charter schools and vocational-technical schools, often do not have a close collaborative relationship with their local public school district. They can enroll in the MSNLP independently. The agreement letter is signed by the principal and the school nurse, and a list of 2-3 designated staff contacts is requested. If there is no full-time nurse, a school counselor or other designated staff may sign.