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SAMHSA: Linking Adolescents at Risk to Mental Health Services & Supports


SAMHSA/CMHS Adolescents at Risk Grant Program


San Francisco Wellness Initiative

Funding Duration

September 2005 - September 2008

Project Lead

Jill R. Glassman

Primary Contact Name

Gillian Silver


In September, 2005, ETR Associates received an “Adolescents at Risk” grant to study the methods used by the San Francisco Wellness Initiative Programs to identify and link high school students at risk of suicide to school- and/or community-based mental health services.

SF Wellness is a collaborative effort between the Department of Children, Youth and Their Families (DCYF), the San Francisco Department of Public Health (DPH), and the San Francisco Unified School District’s School Health Programs Department (SFUSD/SHPD) to provide San Francisco’s high school students with a coordinated system of onsite health education, assessment, mental health counseling, and other support services.

Seven schools were recruited to participate in the study, representing all high schools in SFUSD that had Wellness Programs during the 2005-2006 school year.

During the first year of our grant period, ETR gathered and leveraged qualitative data to better understand the systems and practices that identified and linked students at risk of suicide. Year 1 activities included focus groups with Wellness staff and stakeholders; semi-structured interviews with at-risk students and their parents; and site visits to each of the participating Wellness Program sites.

In subsequent project years, ETR gathered quantitative data from students and families on their perspectives on the Initiative’s services and supports for youth at risk of suicide. The research identified key gaps around the use of standardized assessment tools, a fragmented data collection infrastructure across critical institutions and organization, and the need for enhanced prevention education that focus on reducing stigma around mental health help-seeking.

Overall, results also showed the SF Wellness Initiative facilitated critical improvements in systems that supported the identification of students at risk of suicide and their linkage to needed therapeutic and other services at school and/or in the community.

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