Integrated Software Platform to Enhance School Mental Health Assessment and Data-Driven Student Services

National Institute of Mental Health
ID: 1R43MH126793-01
TERM: 05/23 – 04/25

Mental health (MH) screening is critical to ensure early identification of youth MH needs. Schools are the most common setting for MH service delivery to children and adolescents, therefore, improving the capacity of school-based MH providers to easily access and use validated, high quality MH screening and assessment instruments to identify students in need of services is a significant public health need. Unfortunately, school health and MH professionals face several barriers to using validated MH screening tools, including lack of familiarity with and access to established measures, scoring and interpretation challenges, and limited time and resources to set up and administer MH assessment. Significant public health impact would be realized by investing resources in evidence-based screening and assessment technology products that are feasible, affordable, and usable for schools. The goal of this Direct to Phase II SBIR is to increase access to and use of established high quality MH and MH-related assessment measures in schools. We will develop the SHARE (Student Health Assessment, Response, and Evaluation) software system through iterative, user-centered testing. SHARE will be designed to overcome logistical (e.g., cost, time) and implementation (e.g., administration, scoring) barriers that limit use of available measures, so schools can feasibly implement MH screening and assessment on a routine basis and, ultimately, narrow the gap in access to MH care for youth. This SBIR will further the successful collaboration of 3C Institute and the National Center for School Mental Health (NCSMH). 3C brings essential skills in how to build easy-to-use, feasible technology products for schools, including research-driven platforms for online data collection with youth, meaningful data displays, and integrated decision aids, along with an established technology infrastructure to ensure secure data collection, transfer, and storage. NCSMH brings a nationwide network of thousands of SMH administrators and providers through its School Health Assessment and Performance Evaluation System (SHAPE) along with essential research and clinical expertise in SMH assessment and services, including developing data-driven decision supports to improve SMH services. This foundational work and collaboration provide an unparalleled opportunity to successfully move the proposed SHARE product to market and in so doing, quickly provide schools with an effective means to assess their students’ MH needs and elevate the quality of SMH services. Our Direct to Phase II project will accomplish three specific aims: (1) create the fully functional SHARE software system through iterative user-centered tests, (2) conduct a field test with SMH providers and youth, and (3) conduct a pilot test of the full SHARE system with SMH providers, school-level administrators, and district-level administrators. Our end goal is to elevate the quality of SMH services which, in turn, has the potential for broad-reaching public health impact for youth and families.

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Chief of Research and Learning Content


Dr. Childress obtained her PhD in psychology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Prior to coming to 3C Institute, she served as a research associate and a postdoctoral fellow in the Carolina Institute for Developmental Disabilities at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill working on a longitudinal imaging study aimed at identifying the early markers of autism through behavioral and imaging methodologies. She has 19 years of autism research experience, during which she has examined the behavioral, personality, and cognitive characteristics of individuals with autism and their family members. Dr. Childress also has experience developing behavioral and parent report measurement tools, coordinating multi-site research studies, and collecting data from children and families. She has taught courses and seminars in general child development, autism, and cognitive development at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.


  • autism
  • early development
  • behavioral measurement
  • integrating behavioral and biological measurement


  • Postdoctoral fellowship, Carolina Institute for Developmental Disabilities (Institutional NRSA-NICHD), University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • PhD, developmental psychology, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • BS, psychology (minor in sociology), University of Iowa

Selected Publications

  • Elison, J. T., Wolff, J. J., Heimer, D. C., Paterson, S. J., Gu, H., Hazlett, H. C., Styner, M, Gerig, G., & Piven, J. (in press). Frontolimbic neural circuitry at 6 months predicts individual differences in joint attention at 9 months. Developmental Science.
  • Wassink, T. H., Vieland, V. J., Sheffield, V. C., Bartlett, C. W., Goedken, R., Childress, D. & Piven, J. (2008). Posterior probability of linkage analysis of autism dataset identifies linkage to chromosome 16. Psychiatric Genetics,18(2),85-91.
  • Losh, M., Childress, D., Lam K. & Piven, J. (2008). Defining key features of the broad autism phenotype: A comparison across parents of multiple- and single-incidence autism families. American Journal of Medical Genetics (Neuropsychiatric Genetics), 147B(4):424-33.
  • Wassink, T. H., Piven, J., Vieland, V. J., Jenkins, L., Frantz R., Bartlett, C. W., Goedken, R., … Sheffield, V.C. (2005). Evaluation of the chromosome 2q37.3 gene CENTG2 as an autism susceptibility gene. American Journal of Medical Genetics (Neuropsychiatric Genetics), 136, 36-44.
  • Barrett, S., Beck, J., Bernier, R., Bisson, E., Braun, T., Casavant, T., Childress, D., … Vieland, V. (1999). An autosomal genomic screen for autism. American Journal of Medical Genetics (Neuropsychiatric Genetics), 88, 609-615. doi: 10.1002/(SICI)1096-8628(19991215)88:63.0.CO;2-L
  • Piven, J., Palmer, P., Landa, R., Santangelo, S., Jacobi, D. & Childress, D. (1997). Personality and language characteristics in parents from multiple-incidence autism families. American Journal of Medical Genetics (Neuropsychiatric Genetics), 74, 398-411.
  • Piven, J., Palmer, P., Jacobi, D., Childress, D. & Arndt, S. (1997). Broader autism phenotype: Evidence from a family history study of multiple-incidence autism families. American Journal of Psychiatry, 154, 185-190.