TRAILS

TRAILS (Transforming Research into Action to Improve the Lives of Students), is a unique program that brings effective mental health care to students with symptoms of depression and anxiety throughout Michigan. Depression and anxiety now affect one in five school-aged youth. Due to the challenges families face when trying to access effective mental health care, school counselors, social workers, and psychologists are often the only source for much-needed help. Unfortunately, training programs for school professionals rarely teach evidence-based strategies for responding to student mental illness, thus leaving schools unprepared to help their students.

The TRAILS program provides didactic instruction to school professionals in evidence-based mental health care approaches, such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and mindfulness, then links community mental health providers with their local schools to provide follow-up coaching. In early demonstration trials, this training paired with in-person coaching has led to significant improvement in school professionals' uptake and utilization of CBT. Additionally, students experienced decreases in symptoms of depression and anxiety as a result of better self-awareness and a toolkit of healthful coping strategies. These promising findings inspired the project team to expand the program throughout Michigan.

TRAILS is headed by Dr. Elizabeth Koschmann, a research investigator with the Department of Psychiatry at U-M. The program is currently building a statewide network of community mental health providers to provide support and coaching to school professionals learning CBT.

For more information regarding TRAILS, please visit www.trailstowellness.org or contact project coordinator Jennifer Vichich at jvichich@med.umich.edu.