Tuesday, August 14, 2012

So What Are Educationally Related Mental Health Services?

By Carolina D. Watts from Special Education and Disability Rights Blog (A2Z Educational Advocates)

Since the state of California decided to repeal AB3632, which previously governed the provision of mental health services to students with IEPs in California, there has been a lengthy time period of changes and adjustments as school districts have had to figure out how to provide the services that were previously under the purview of the Department of Mental Health.  Now that the dust has somewhat settled, many parents are hearing a relatively new term for the services that previously were referred to as "AB3632 services"  - - "Educationally Related Mental Health Services" or the acronym "ERMHS."

At the most basic, ERMHS should encompass the same types of services that were previously available under AB3632 within a student's IEP, with the exception of "medication management" services.  This means that ERMHS may include residential placement or intensive outpatient therapeutic services like family therapy / counseling, individual therapy / counseling, and/or group therapy / counseling.  At this time, school districts are responsible for providing these services themselves, the same way that school districts are responsible for other related services such as speech and language therapy or occupational therapy.

Because school districts have always had the responsibility of providing "counseling" services as a related service (or what is called "Designated Instruction and Services" or "DIS" services), there is some confusion about the possible overlap between ERMHS and "DIS Counseling."  Here is a definition of each:

Counseling as a Related Services (DIS Counseling) is defined as counseling services provided to a student’s behavioral and emotional needs that affect their ability to benefit from their special education program and are manifested primarily at school.

Educationally Related Mental Health Services (ERMHS) is defined as services provided to a student whose behavioral and emotional needs are documented to be more intense in frequency, duration or intensity, affect their ability to benefit from their special education program, and are manifested as school, at home and in the community.

Read more HERE.
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