Student Wellness and Academic Support
School-Based Mental Health
The school-based mental health (SBMH) program is a collaborative effort between CMS, Mecklenburg County, and several local mental health agencies. The purpose of the SBMH program is to increase the availability of evidence-based mental health services for the purpose of improving students’ emotional well-being and enhancing their ability to access and benefit from instruction.

SBMH services are outpatient mental health services that are provided by a mental health clinician from one of the SBMH partner agencies at the school building during the instructional day. Additional services provided by the SBMH clinicians may include comprehensive clinical assessments, group therapy, family therapy, participation in team meetings, and crisis support.

SBMH services do not replace the work that is being done by CMS student services staff members, but the SBMH services occur in addition to the support services already provided by CMS. 

Approximately 131 schools in CMS have the SBMH program.

CLICK HERE to see a list of SBMH schools and their assigned agencies.

The SBMH program in CMS is a one agency per school model. This means that only the assigned agency for that school is able to provide outpatient mental health services to students within that building. SBMH partner agencies cannot provide services to students in schools for which they are not the assigned partner.

List of Current Providers

SBMH partner agencies were carefully selected by a panel of CMS and community agency representatives for their ability to promote and support the CMS vision for school-based mental health services. Currently, the below agencies serve as SBMH partners:

How does my agency become an SBMH partner to provide services in schools?
When there is a demand for additional SBMH providers, CMS will make public a request for proposals (RFP) that will allow community providers to be considered to serve as an SBMH partner. The most recent RFP occurred in January 2019, a copy of the document is found here (2018-19 RFP doc).  In the past, CMS has put forth an RFP for SBMH once every 2-3 years.

Providers that are not one of the school-based mental health partner agencies may not provide mental health services on CMS campuses. This excludes Mecklenburg County’s CD-CP and HERO program therapists, and Kindermourn therapists who co-facilitate grief groups with CMS counselors.

When are SBMH services warranted?
SBMH services are outpatient mental health services; this means that the student has a mental health diagnosis that warrants treatment.

An SBMH referral may be appropriate when a student is experiencing behavioral and/or emotional difficulties, a student is experiencing or has experienced trauma AND when the student’s functioning in the school environment has been impacted by the above concerns or is likely to be impacted by the above concerns if needs are unaddressed.

SBMH Referral Process

1.  A CMS employee explains the SBMH program to the guardian; if the guardian agrees to the referral, they sign the CMS consent for release of Information form between CMS and the assigned SBMH agency.

2.  CMS employee enters the online SBMH referral.

3.  Referral is reviewed and forwarded to the assigned SBMH agency.

4.  Assigned agency contacts guardian to verify insurance information and schedule clinical intake assessment.

5  Guardian and student participate in clinical intake assessment and then outpatient therapy services begin.

Service Fees

Provider agencies are providing outpatient therapy and will bill the student’s insurance for all rendered services. Provider agencies will verify insurance benefits and review all projected fees with the guardian prior to any services occurring.

All agencies have made an agreement to provide a portion of their services on a pro bono basis. Although pro bono services are available it is important to note that the requests for pro bono services far outweigh their availability which can result in lengthy wait times for pro bono services.

Common Concerns

Will the student receive a diagnosis if they are participating in SBMH?
Yes, SBMH services are outpatient mental health therapy services related to a mental health diagnosis. When the mental health agency conducts the clinical intake assessment, the clinician will determine if the students meets criteria for a mental health diagnosis. If the student does not meet criteria for a mental health diagnosis, then they would not be eligible to receive mental health services.

How long does it take for services to start?
Once the SBMH agency receives the SBMH referral, they will reach out to the parent within 1-3 business days to verify insurance and schedule a clinical intake assessment. Outpatient therapy generally begins the week after the clinical intake assessment is completed.

How frequently will the SBMH therapist meet with the student?
The frequency of services delivery depends on the treatment needs that are identified in the clinical assessment. The majority of students start with therapy once a week and then after 6-8 weeks the frequency of services may be decreased to once every other week.

How do I know if my child is getting better?
The SBMH therapist should be meeting with the guardian at least monthly to review treatment progress, address new concerns, adjust service goals and delivery, etc.

My child is more comfortable using another language, do you have mental health therapists that speak other languages?
We do have therapists that speak Spanish who can serve our students. We will make every effort to accommodate students who need therapy to occur in languages other than English and Spanish.

What should I do if the SBMH agency at my child’s school doesn’t accept my type of insurance, or if I don’t have insurance?
If the agency at your school does not accept your insurance, or you do not have insurance, you can:
  • Select a local mental health provider that does accept your insurance (calling your insurance company is a good way to identify those options) and receive outpatient services after school hours.
  • Select a local mental health provider that offers sliding fee and pro bono services and receive outpatient services after school hours.
  • Request that your child be placed on the CMS pro bono wait list for services; however, pro bono needs far outweigh availability, so the wait time may be long.
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Charlotte, NC 28230-0035
Phone: 980-343-3000
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