We report on a program which aimed to deliver evidence-based mental healthcare services to disadvantaged adolescents in an inner city high school in the Southeastern United States experiencing symptoms of emotional disorders. This program had two main components: in-person group counseling and individual cognitive behavioral therapy via a tele-health platform. The goals of this paper are to: (1) describe the design, implementation, and efficacy of a school based mental health program (2) summarize self-reported behavioral health issues and themes generated from participant responses, and (3) assess the implications of the use of tele-health platforms in school-based behavioral health systems. Preliminary assessment of the program confirmed that this combined group counselling/teletherapy approach was acceptable by participants and a strategic and effective way to provide behavioral health services on a school campus.

Key Take Away Points

  • Tele-therapy individual counseling was able to demonstrate overall acceptability of the dual platforms with at risk youth in public school settings.

  • Approach identified significant need for services based on self-reported contemporary behavioral health problems experienced by marginalized groups.

  • Analysis confirmed that this combined group counselling/ teletherapy approach is accepted by its adolescent users as a strategic and effective way to provide behavioral health services on a school campus.

Author Biography

Dr. Smith has over 48 years of experience and provides oversight and direction for the 9 Teen Health inner city clinics. Ms. Van Horn coordinates the programmatic outreach efforts with public and private organizations. Ms. McCollum is a licensed therapist and conducts group sessions. Ms. Christian coordinates project research components. Dr. Kennedy, a faculty member of the University of Colorado assist with therapeutic strategies. Ms. Perez is a research associate. Dr. Storch is the academic liaison with the Department of Psychiatry and the Menninger Clinic.


This project was funded in part by The McGovern Foundation, The Madison Foundation, the Cullen Trust and The Menninger Foundation.