Impacts of Whole School, Whole Community, Whole Child Interventions on K-12 Mental Health




Phu, Daniel
Mahasamudram, Prathyusha
Vu, Patrick
Valdez, Alia


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Purpose: Youth mental health is a growing problem, with one third of high school students reporting persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness in 2019. In 2014, the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) introduced the Whole School, Whole Community, Whole Child (WSCC) model, which emphasizes collaborative networks between educational, community, and health sectors to integrate education, health promotion, and disease prevention. Although the WSCC model has since gained popularity, there remains little data on its impact on K-12 mental health outcomes. This rapid review describes: (1) the current body of research on the WSCC model on mental and behavioral health of students, (2) common practical applications of the model, and (3) future research opportunities.

Methods: We conducted a systematic, rapid review of literature on WSCC interventions. Peer-reviewed systematic reviews or primary studies since 2012 that targeted K-12 mental, behavioral, or emotional wellness within the United States were included. A three-person research team reviewed the studies and categorized findings by emerging themes.

Results: 460 articles were screened, and 14 were included for review. The results show positive impacts of WSCC interventions on K-12 mental health, particularly: enhancing preventative efforts by facilitating health-education partnerships and strengthening student-educator relationships by incorporating comprehensive wellness into education initiatives. Common challenges include competing priorities and garnering cohesive resources and support for interventions. The professional development of educators and tailoring to high risk groups including LGBTQ students, students of color, and military-connected youth were identified as key components to success.

Conclusions: Identifying available evidence and knowledge gaps may inform the implementation of future WSCC initiatives. More discussion and research on its impacts, best use cases, and practical applications are needed, but the WSCC model offers a promising framework for promoting mental and behavioral wellness in the K-12 setting.