Communities In Schools of Houston celebrates 10-year anniversary of Mental Health Initiative

Communities In Schools (CIS) of Houston marks the 10th anniversary of its Mental Health Initiative, (MHI) which was launched in September 2012 to expand mental health support across the Houston-area campuses it serves. For the past 43 years, supporting students’ mental health and well-being has been at the core of what CIS does. With the MHI, the organization was able to implement targeted efforts to collectively address the growing mental health needs on CIS campuses.

Communities In Schools of Houston empowers every student, regardless of race, zip code, or socioeconomic background, to realize their potential in school and beyond. During the 2022-2023 school year, CIS will serve 173 school campuses in six school districts across Greater Houston. At least one full-time CIS staff member (Student Support Specialist) on each partner campus ensures basic needs are met, delivering direct services, providing mental health services, and connecting students and families with much-needed community resources.

The Mental Health Initiative began with a single Mental Health Specialist position at Lamar High School in Houston Independent School District (HISD), held by CIS’s current Director of Mental Health & Wellness, Shubhra Endley, LCSW-S. In 2012, CIS was serving just 300 students on five campuses. During the 2020-2021 school year, CIS facilitated and coordinated mental health services for more than 5,000 students across 82 campuses.

Since 2012, CIS has continually increased the number of licensed mental health professionals on staff and has expanded its capacity to provide training and supervision to achieve licensures. It has solidified partnerships with mental health agencies to further support students. Specific interventions target grief and loss, anxiety, depression, suicide ideations, verbal or physical aggression, identity issues, suspected drug/alcohol use and conflict in the home.

“At this time, there is a landscape which encompasses various challenges to the overall well-being of our students,” says Endley. “CIS staff and our mental health partners are working alongside students and their families in developing strategies for living healthier lives.” She noted that CIS of Houston has made it a priority to ensure all campus-based staff members are trained in trauma-informed practices, Mental Health First Aid and suicide prevention strategies every year. 

Today, the CIS Mental Health Initiative has grown to encompass a three-part program of mental health support on the campuses served. Through CIS campus-based mental health professionals, the CIS Mobile Mental Health Team and mental health partners, CIS is able to provide counseling, facilitate support groups and make referrals to students and their parents. Partner agencies include Bo’s Place, The Council on Recovery, DePelchin Children’s Center, Family Houston, Montrose Center, Nick Finnegan Counseling Center and re:MIND.

Communities In Schools of Houston launched the Mobile Mental Health Team in 2019 to meet the growing demand for mental health support for students. The team of five licensed mental health professionals covers 32 campuses in five school districts to offer intensive mental health support for students throughout the school year. These professionals work closely with on-campus CIS Student Support Specialists and educators to provide one-on-one, ongoing mental health services to the students who need it most.

At a time when the need for mental health services on school campuses is at an all-time high, Communities In Schools of Houston continues to ensure that the students it serves receive the professional support they need to survive and thrive. For more information about the Communities In Schools of Houston Mental Health Initiative, please visit https://www.cishouston.org/mental-health-initiative.