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Most days, are students in our classrooms motivated, ready, and able to learn?  Educators understand that mental, emotional, and behavioral problems among young people interfere with their capacity to thrive. 

Children’s social and physical environment literally shapes their brains, and consequently also shapes their behaviors and emotions. Researchers have documented evidence for school sector strategies that lower risk factors and support protective factors in order to influence outcomes for young people.

Integrating protective mental health in schools is a proactive process, and we’re here to help.

Understanding Needs

The Oklahoma Prevention Needs Assessment (OPNA) is a biennial survey for students in 6th, 8th, 10th, and 12th grades provided at no costs to schools. The survey is designed to measure psychological distress and health behaviors, including substance use, as well as their underlying causes. Results are used to develop appropriate strategies tailored to the needs of the school, collect school-level data needed for grant program eligibility and reporting, and to monitor program successes. State of Oklahoma Statute {§70-24-158} requires that all public schools administer either the OPNA or an ODMHSAS-approved alternative survey. Non-public schools may administer the OPNA voluntarily. 

Making A Plan That Will Work

No cost technical assistance is available for school districts on how to select and implement proven school-based prevention programs and practices. The ODMHSAS can advise schools in designing prevention services that are most likely to deliver positive outcomes using a Multi-Tiered System of Support (MTSS) design.  Currently, the ODMHSAS has partnerships with several school districts across the state undertaking this comprehensive planning for mental health promotion and prevention/intervention services.  Contact us for support.

Proven Prevention Programs For Students

The ODMHSAS has invested in evidence-based programs to prevent priority substance use and mental health problems among Oklahoma young people.

School-Based Suicide Prevention Services - The ODMHSAS offers training and support to Oklahoma schools in a number of evidence-based suicide prevention practices, including training to identify and assist students in distress with appropriate referral, suicide intervention training for those interacting with high risk populations, and postvention training and support to foster healing after a suicide loss and ensure a supportive reintegration for students following a suicide crisis.

2Much2Lose (2M2L) - 2M2L is Oklahoma’s underage drinking prevention initiative. Under this program, the ODMHSAS can support 2M2L Chapters in local schools and community-based programs. 2M2L Chapters are youth-led coalitions that work to prevent underage drinking and other problems in the community. As the ODMHSAS is the Oklahoma coordinator for the organization, Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD), all 2M2L Chapters also enjoy the benefits of affiliation with SADD National.

PAX Good Behavior Game® - The Good Behavior Game® (GBG) is a classroom approach to teaching positive student behavior at the elementary school level. GBG is designed to decrease classroom disruption and off-task and withdrawn behaviors by increasing child emotional and behavioral self-regulation. GBG has demonstrated positive outcomes related to alcohol, tobacco, and other drug use; suicide attempts; mental health problems; violence; and academic performance. The ODMHSAS has partnered with Oklahoma State University Center for Family Resilience to provide GBG training and classroom support. Contact: Email Brooke Tuttle or call 918-594-8506

ASPIRE (A Smoking Prevention Interactive Experience) - ASPIRE is a free online educational resource developed by The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. ASPIRE delivers tobacco prevention education to teens and adolescents at a self-directed pace. The program is evidenced-based and tackles the full range of traditional and emerging products such as e-cigarettes, hookah, JUUL and synthetic marijuana. ASPIRE participants have shown a 53-60% decrease in likelihood to use cigarettes, vaping products and hookah. If your school or district is interested in adding ASPIRE as an alternative to suspension or including it into their comprehensive curriculum, complete the ASPIRE interest survey to get started.

Alcohol-Wise HS - Alcohol-Wise HS is an online alcohol prevention course that educates high school students on the risks and dangers associated with underage drinking including impaired driving. Alcohol-Wise HS helps students make informed decisions about choosing not to drink and develop strategies for standing up to peer pressure to drink. Alcohol Wise utilizes the evidence-based eCHECKUP TO GO brief intervention which provides personalized feedback to each student and is proven to reduce high-risk drinking behavior. Contact: Email Katelyn Wilson or call 405-982-5986.

AlcoholEdu for High School® - AlcoholEdu for High School® is an online alcohol prevention course that engages teens using the internet, videos, and project-based learning. AlcoholEdu has demonstrated outcomes including increased student knowledge about alcohol, improved student attitudes and behaviors, and reduced negative consequences associated with underage drinking such as riding in a car with a drinking driver. AlcoholEdu delivers a personalized experience to every student and includes a parental component. For more information or to get started please visit: AlcoholEdu - Underage Drinking Prevention - EVERFI

Botvin LifeSkills® Training - Botvin LifeSkills® Training (LST) is an evidence-based substance use and violence prevention program that has been proven to reduce the risk of alcohol, tobacco, drug use, and violence among children and teens. The LST provides skills in drug resistance, personal self-management, healthy alternatives to risky behaviors, and general social interactions. This program can be taught in schools, community agencies, faith-based organizations, and after-school settings. If your school or district is interested in implementing Botvin LifeSkills, please complete the Botvin LST application to get started. Contact: Email Katelyn Wilson or call 405-982-5986.

School-Based Prevention Services Grant: Multi-Tiered System of Supports - 

School-based prevention services are an array of evidence-based programs, policies, and/or practices planned and implemented within the Local Education Agencies (LEAs) to prevent identified risk factors contributing to substance use and mental health problems. As part of the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (ODMHSAS) strategic plan to prevent mental, emotional, and behavioral (MEB) health problems, the ODMHSAS will partner with selected Oklahoma LEAs to plan and implement evidence-based, school-based prevention services. The ODMHSAS seeks application from LEAs interested in developing a Multi-Tiered System of Support (MTSS) and providing direct school-based prevention services. Under this application, school-based prevention services include planning, coordination and delivery of evidence-informed strategies to students, families, staff and educators. The aims of this project are to:

  • Develop a districtwide, comprehensive MTSS plan with the ODMHSAS.
  • Train school staff and educators how to recognize the risk factors and warning signs of developing MEB health problems and how to respond to MEB health crisis.
  • Offer learning-focused opportunities for families on student MEB health.
  • Decrease stigmatizing attitudes and behaviors related to MEB health.
  • Implement evidence-informed primary prevention strategies with students, with substance use risk factor outcomes.

Gizmo's Pawesome Guide to Mental Health - Gizmo’s Pawesome Guide to Mental Health takes an upstream approach to support the mental health and wellness of youth. Utilizing the evidence-based Stanley-Brown Safety Plan as the framework, the Guide introduces mental health wellness knowledge and skills to youth at an early age with the hope that they may apply what they learn for a lifetime to help them stay healthy and safe. It introduces the characteristics of trusted adults including who may be a trusted adult, how to practice talking with a trusted adult, and promotes proactive communication. It gives youth the opportunity to create a personal mental health plan of action that they can use daily or in a time of need to help them avert crisis. Visit their website for a free PDF copy of the Guide and additional resources. A limited number of physical books are available to schools at no cost – if interested, email Meg Cannon, or 405-538-5527.

Empowering Teens to Help Themselves

Own Your Power aims to empower teens to find, own and share their power to live a life without vaping and weed by giving them the tools they need to manage their mental health.

Developing Skills Among Faculty And Staff

ODMHSAS school-based prevention programs help school faculty and staff learn new skills to prevent problems among young people.  As front-line caregivers, educators need support for their own mental wellness and to support one another.

Getting Immediate Help For Young People

Oklahoma Systems of Care

Oklahoma Systems of Care is a state-wide collaborative network involving members of local communities, organizations, agencies, facilities, centers and groups that serve the needs of children, youth, and young adults.

988 Mental Health Lifeline

The 988 Mental Health Lifeline replaced the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline in July 2022. 988 is a direct, three-digit lifeline that connects you with trained behavioral health professionals that can get all Oklahomans the help they need.

Crisis Helplines

Call or Text 988 to connect with Oklahoma's Mental Health Lifeline. 988 is a direct, three-digit lifeline that connects you with trained behavioral health professionals that can get all Oklahomans the help they need.

Contact the Prevention Team

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