Addressing unique ethical and legal challenges in expanded school mental health

Christine Prodente, Mark Sander, Chandra Grabill, Marcia Rubin, Nadine Schwab

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


As the school mental health movement and related prevention efforts have grown, this has paved the way for increased collaboration among educators, school mental health professionals, and community-based practitioners such as clinical psychologists, social workers, psychiatrists, nurses, counselors, and supervised trainees (Flaherty et al., 1998). An emergent aspect of this interdisciplinary approach to mental health care, however, is the lack of clarity about which professional codes and licensing statutes should serve as the guideline for appropriate professional conduct within school mental health programs. In this chapter (as in others in the book), we use the term expanded school mental healthto refer to school-based programs that involve schools working in Partnership with community agencies and programs to provide a full array of mental health care and special education to youth in general (Weist, 1997). Since expanded school mental health providers are located within, but are not necessarily employed by, the school, they must navigate a difficult course through professional ethics codes, state and federal mandates (both health and education), local school board policies, and the policies of their employing agencies. Addressing such issues as client confidentiality and parental consent within the school setting, while maintaining collaborative relationships with the school staff, for example, can be very challenging The goals of this chapter are to (1) identify factors contributing to the confusion regarding the professional obligations of expanded school mental health providers, (2) highlight some of the unique liability and ethical issues related to providing mental health services in the schools, and (3) provide suggestions for addressing these concerns. It is beyond the scope of this chapter to discuss every ethical and legal challenge that may occur when working in school settings. Rather, the chapter will focus on those ethical and legal issues specific to expanded school mental health programs. The chapter is meant to provide a stimulus for further discussion by mental health providers, educators, and policymakers.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationHandbook of school mental health
Subtitle of host publicationadvancing practice and research
Place of PublicationNew York
PublisherSpringer Nature
Number of pages11
ISBN (Electronic)9780387733135
ISBN (Print)9780306473371, 0306473372
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2003
Externally publishedYes

Publication series

NameIssues in Clinical Child Psychology


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