Multi-tiered System of Supports

What is a MTSS for Mental Health?

An MTSS is a framework that focuses on serving all students through a comprehensive continuum of care. An MTSS includes strategies to proactively identify students who are at-risk of developing mental or behavioral health challenges, such as through universal screening and referral systems, and matches student needs to evidence-based interventions. Student progress is monitored through the collection of data, which is used to make decisions about care.

Key Concepts within a MTSS

The following are key concepts for understanding a MTSS for school mental health:

  • The supports and services within a MTSS are flexible, providing easy access to needed services at times and places that are convenient to families.
  • MTSS tiers are layered, rather than distinct or separate. Students who are accessing higher levels of care continue to access any beneficial services and supports within lower tiers. Families and students can access services throughout the tiers, as needed, and do not need to try lower levels of care before progressing to a more intensive level of services.
  • The MTSS is most effective when schools invest in Tier 1 universal supports. When we build a strong foundation of mental health promotion and prevention, we reduce the need for targeted and intensive services.
  • Provide more intensive and targeted services and supports at the individual, group, or family level to address mental health concerns.
  • Teams implementing the MTSS for mental health use dynamic, problem-solving approach to identify problems, analyze the problem, create an action plan, implement the plan, measure outcomes and adapt.
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