Iowa Board of Regents

Iowa Center for School Mental Health

The growing need for mental health services among students and educators in Iowa has outpaced the state’s ability to deliver those services. The COVID-19 pandemic and its associated stressors has only increased this need. In this light, the University of Iowa has requested approval of a new center to provide social, emotional, behavioral and psychological services to all Iowa schools.

The Iowa Center for School Mental Health, if approved, will serve as Iowa’s hub for research-to-practice related to mental health. The center will bring together educational partners, policymakers and mental health professionals to address the mental health needs of Iowa’s students and teachers. 

“Coupling the pandemic with the existing mental health needs that have been on the rise for the last decade, school-based mental health services are as critical as ever,” said Allison Bruhn, professor of special education at the University of Iowa and executive director of the center. “Our Center is poised and prepared to join other stakeholders across the state who are actively working to meet an urgent need in Iowa’s schools. We have assembled a team of experts who are passionate about working with students, families, educators, clinicians and policymakers to improve social, emotional, behavioral, and psychological outcomes across the state.”

The proposed center, made possible through a partnership with the Iowa Department of Education, will leverage the capacities and expertise of the Regents institutions to provide important mental health services and training. Center personnel will design and provide professional training to educators, research evidence-based practices on service delivery in Iowa classrooms, provide resources and immediate support to Iowa educators and provide professional development, outreach, prevention, intervention and postvention services. 

The center will fund and conduct research that engages schools and communities across the state. Specifically, the center will offer professional learning opportunities for current students and faculty that will contribute to their development as educators who are able to address the social, emotional, behavioral and psychological needs of the students they serve.

In addition to a one-time $20 million grant from the Iowa Department of Education, the center will be funded primarily through grants and philanthropic support. 

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