Indiana School Mental Health Initiative

Indiana Institute on Disability and Community at Indiana University

  • Where is the best place to improve the social, emotional, and mental health of as many people as we possibly could? Answer: Our schools.
  • Stressed brains do not learn the same as brains that feel safe, feel connection, and can manage emotions.
  • Resilient school staff and students lead to resilient and thriving families, and communities.

Cathy Pratt, Ph.D., ISMHI Director
Christy Gauss, M.S.W., ISMHI Facilitator
(812) 855-6508

Facing a Struggle? Find Help.

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Each and every Indiana student is socially, emotionally, behaviorally, mentally, and physically healthy so they are ready to learn and achieve their full potential.


Working alongside school districts and their community partners, we provide resources, training, and advocacy to build their capacity to promote the social, emotional, behavioral, mental, and physical health of Indiana’s school-age children and youth with the goal of increasing school engagement and improving educational and life outcomes.

Values and Beliefs

  • The function of an education is to address the development of the whole child.
  • Attachment is the carrier of all development, including learning.
  • Meeting the social, emotional, and mental health needs of teachers and other school staff is as important as meeting those of the student’s.
  • Our schools and communities are stronger when we work together.


  • Raise awareness on the effects of trauma, stress, and adversity on social, emotional, and cognitive development.
  • Promote the development of multi-tiered, cross-system infrastructures to support school communities in addressing the social, emotional, behavioral, and mental health needs of their students and staff within existing structures.
  • Share best and promising practices across Indiana by building a community of practice and harnessing our collective knowledge.
  • Identify barriers that exist and work to close gaps in systems.
  • Assist school districts in building strong community partnerships and connecting to their local System of Care (SOC).
  • Identify funding mechanisms and cross-system collaboration opportunities to promote the above.


  • Dr. Cathy Pratt, BCBA-D, Director, Indiana Resource Center for Autism and Indiana School Mental Health Initiative at Indiana Institute on Disability and Community at Indiana University, Bloomington
  • Christy Gauss, M.S.W., School Mental Health Facilitator, Indiana School Mental Health Initiative

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