Final Review of the 2022 Advocacy Academy
In This Section
Creating Equitable Access to School Mental Health Services
The 2022 Virtual Advocacy Academy took place from July 13 to 15. Over 60 school psychologists joined NASP and the GPR Committee in learning about, discussing, and advocating for equitable access to school mental health services, which was this year's theme. Prior to the start of the live event, participants watched a series of Pre-Academy learning modules where they learned about the foundations of public policy, basics of legislative and grassroots advocacy and the effective use of data in advocacy efforts. In addition, participants, in collaboration with NASP GPR members, began to prepare for the Capitol Hill Day experience. We kicked off the live event with a message from NASP President, Celeste Malone before engaging in discussion and Q and A about the Pre-Academy modules. Participants then broke into regional breakout groups for networking and planning for the Capitol Hill Day. It was a great start to the event and it was wonderful to hear advocates share data, stories, and strategies in each of the regional discussion sessions and help each other feel comfortable and prepared for their meetings with legislative staff.
The second day of the Advocacy Academy included keynote sessions, panel Q&As, and topical breakout sessions on key components of expanding access to equitable mental health services. We started our day with Dr. Sharon Hoover's keynote on systems level policy solutions to ensuring access to mental health services for all our students. Dr. Hoover's expertise from her time as Co-Director of the National Center for School Mental Health (NCSMH, www.schoolmentalhealth.org), and Director of the Center for Safe Supportive Schools (CS3) was evident in the wonderful resources and wealth of knowledge she shared during her session. Next, Kelly Vaillancourt Strobach, NASP Policy and Advocacy Director, facilitated a panel discussion on the evolving federal role in the provision of school mental health services with Renee Bradley and Valerie Williams from the Office of Special Education Programs within the U.S. Department of Education. This engaging panel highlighted future directions for special education programming, parent perspectives on the delivery of mental health services in schools, special considerations for working with students with emotional disabilities, and resources available through the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Special Education programs. Our participants then had the privilege of listening to and participating in Dr. Byron McClure's energetic presentation on the barriers to equitable school mental health access, culturally affirming social-emotional learning, and social justice. Dr. Celeste Malone, NASP President and the Coordinator of Howard University's School Psychology program, closed out the keynote portion of the day with her presentation on culturally responsive MTSS that relies on school-based and community-based mental health personnel and services. Participants then split into groups for more detailed discussions on creating equity and access to school mental health services where they were able to reflect and respond to topics like workforce capacity, data usage, and how to leverage policy and funding among others. On Friday, participants were finally able to put all their training into practice by participating in the virtual Capitol Hill Day. It was a privilege to be able to debrief with excited advocates as they returned from their meetings and shared their successes and challenges and we look forward to seeing what positive changes these newly formed relationships bring.