Aaron Lyon, Ph.D.

Over 18 million children and adolescents in the United States experience mental health problems, but only one in five receive treatment. Among those youth who receive care, 70-80% do so in the education sector, where school-based mental health services reduce longstanding treatment access disparities experienced by youth from ethnic or cultural minority backgrounds. Despite the ability of school-based services to improve accessibility, barriers to effective treatment include stigma, an insufficiently sized school-based workforce, and low use of high-quality evidence-based practices among existing school practitioners.

Collaborative care is an innovative approach to treating mental health problems that is focused on reducing access barriers, improving service quality, and lowering healthcare expenditures by expanding the service workforce. Over 70 randomized trials support the effectiveness of collaborate care for adults with depression, but studies examining the model among youth are just beginning to emerge and no studies have examined formal collaborative care models in schools. The primary goal of the proposed project is to develop a school-specific collaborative care model to increase the number of healthcare providers (including primary care providers and indigenous school-based personnel) who can deliver mental health services to youth experiencing mood and anxiety problems.

Dr. Lyon is Director of the School Mental Health Assessment, Research, and Training (SMART) Center at the University of Washington. The mission of the Center is to promote high-quality, culturally-responsive programs, practices, and policies to meet the full range of social, emotional, and behavioral needs of students in both general and special education contexts.