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The Mental Health Initiative (MHI)

The Mental Health Initiative (MHI) provides students in crisis with interventions that alleviate emotional and behavioral challenges, enhance coping skills, improve student emotional and physical health, and in turn, academic achievement. Students in need of counseling services are identified by referrals from school principals, teachers, parents, peers and CIS staff.

The CIS Mental Health Initiative began in 2012 serving 300 students in just 5 schools, and now CIS provides more mental health direct services to students in schools than any other provider of mental health services.

During the 2016-2017 school year, the CIS Mental Health Initiative served 7,374 students on 59 campuses.


The MHI is a Two-Part Program:

Master’s level mental health professionals from CIS and our partner mental health agencies provide mental health counseling, support groups, diagnostic services, treatment, and referrals to students and their parents. Interventions target conflict in the home, grief and loss, verbal or physical aggression, anxiety, depression, identity issues, suspected drug/alcohol use, and unusual behavior.

Matching student need directly to services inside the schoolyard, is what sets us apart. If you want to make sure they get the service, meet them where they are!
— Linda Gale White- Former First Lady of Texas, CIS Board member

 Photo by bodnarchuk/iStock / Getty Images

Aaron recounts his difficulty in school, “I was recently diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder and I needed a lot of help. It was hard to get up in the morning, and I was falling behind in school. I needed someone to turn to. CIS was there for me,”

Students with unmet mental health needs risk school failure, social isolation, and dropout unless their problems are addressed by responsible adults.  Our mental health professionals use evidence based methods to help students cope with complex trauma, guide their identity formation, manage grief and loss, reduce and/or prevent substance abuse, and ultimately thrive through depression and other mental illnesses.

“CIS helped me find a place where I wasn’t judged, where I could be heard and understood. Over time, I learned how to manage my frustration, and get back on track in my classes.”

I see firsthand the importance of young people getting help for mental issues early in life. One of the most efficient service providers of mental health assistance within public schools is Communities In Schools. The work of CIS is not only good for the present, I believe we will see a positive impact on the juvenile justice system and eventually, on the adult criminal justice system.
— Ed Emmett, Harris County Judge

Strengths-Based, Youth-Focused, Collaborative, Systemic, Holistic



Youth Focused




Our focus on student mental health and wellness supports educators so that they can focus on what they do best- academics!
— Harriet Arvey, PhD - Retired School Psychologist and CIS Mental Health Initiative Co-Founder

Our Mental Health Partners