U-M Department of Psychiatry receives $3.9 million dollar NIMH grant to improve student mental health

The University of Michigan Department of Psychiatry was recently awarded a $3.9 million grant from the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) for a new study titled, “Improving Student Mental Health: Adaptive Implementation of School-based Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.”

The trial will allow U-M researchers to study the effectiveness of different implementation strategies to improve access to evidence-based mental health care for students with depression and anxiety throughout the state of Michigan.

Amy Kilbourne, Ph.D., M.P.H.

Amy Kilbourne, Ph.D., M.P.H.

Amy M. Kilbourne, Ph.D., M.P.H., is the principal investigator for the study that focuses heavily on the work being done through the TRAILS program (Transforming Research into Action to Improve the Lives of Students), which is led by Elizabeth Koschmann, Ph.D.

TRAILS trains school professionals to utilize the evidence-based practices of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and mindfulness with students to improve their quality of life. Mood and anxiety disorders affect 20-30 percent of school-age children, contributing to poor developmental and academic outcomes. While many mental health disorders are treatable, only a fraction of children in need ever access effective care. Public schools are often the only source of help, but school professionals like counselors and social workers are generally not trained to deliver this type of care. TRAILS has developed a program to support these school professionals with training, online access to resources, and face-to-face coaching.

According to Dr. Kilbourne, “Efficient and successful implementation of CBT in schools requires scientific study of implementation strategies, which help scale up and spread effective practices, ultimately reaching school professionals who care for our most vulnerable students. This NIH grant will allow us to compare the effectiveness of three different established strategies to determine the best method to implement CBT to ensure participant success and program longevity.”

The randomized controlled trial will engage more than 200 school professionals spanning all 83 Michigan counties. The following three implementation methods will be explored: Replicating Effective Programs (REP), the TRAILS model of REP plus coaching, and REP plus coaching and organizational facilitation.

TRAILS Program Director Dr. Koschmann added, “Through this trial focused on robust data collection, as well as ongoing program development with an expansive network of collaborative partners, TRAILS is making effective mental health services accessible in all schools.”

In addition to Kilbourne and Koschmann, other investigators on the project include James Abelson, M.D., Ph.D.; Kate Fitzgerald, M.D.; Shawna Smith, Ph.D.; Joe Himle, Ph.D.; Daniel Eisenberg, Ph.D.; and Daniel Almirall, Ph.D.

TRAILS is supported by the Michigan Health Endowment Fund, Michigan Medicaid, Michigan DHHS & CMH offices, The Prosper Road Foundation, the Mackey Family, and the U-M Department of Psychiatry and Comprehensive Depression Center.

Learn more about TRAILS here.