health care,
education and
social services

health care,
education  and
social services

School Based Mental Health Program

The Mary’s Center School Based Mental Health (SBMH) Program supports children, families, and communities by promoting behavioral wellness. Established in 2014, SBMH currently partners with 16 public schools in Wards 1, 4, and 5 in Washington, DC.  Interest in our program is growing rapidly and expansion is underway! We believe this is due to our highly skilled and bilingual therapists working in strong collaborative partnerships with talented school teams to achieve real results for children.


What does the School Based Mental Health Program do?

The SBMH Program seeks to supplement and enhance each school’s wellness team by providing diagnostic assessments and behavioral health treatment to children who require a higher level of support that involves a diagnostic assessment and individualized treatment planningMary’s Center Therapists provide individual treatment using Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, play and sand tray therapy,  mindfulness, and meditation interventions, to name a few.  Our therapeutic groups address trauma, high risk behaviors, adjustment to the United States for newcomer immigrant students, and social skills.

We also offer family therapy and parent coaching to strengthen the family unit and accelerate children’s emotional and behavioral gains.

In addition, SBMH provides some community support services to help families access tangible resources that enhance wellbeing. 

Our staff also participates in community education events, making presentations on topics such as  building health and education systems that are responsive to the needs and strengths of newcomer families, and making schools welcoming and safe for all students.


SBMH team

(Above: Some members of the School Based Mental Health Team)


Which schools does the SBMH Program work with? 

Mary’s Center Partners with 16 schools. One or more mental health therapists partner full time in each school, reducing barriers to accessing diagnostic assessments and culturally responsive, trauma informed behavioral health care. Click here for the list of schools and contact details of the therapists at each school.


Is your school interested in partnering with Mary's Center? 

Contact Marisa Parrella, LICSW, LCSW-C, Senior Clinical Manager, School Based Mental Health Program at or 202-674-3754. Please note that the SBMH Program is no longer accepting applications for new partnerships for the 2017-2018 school year. Please complete the application form to express your interest in a partnership for the 2018-2019 school year.


Related Documents

School Based Mental Health Program Outcomes

School Connections - Spring 2017 (SBMH newsletter)


Conference Presentations

Teaching Teachers to Respond to Trauma in the Classroom: First Steps in Creating a Trauma-Informed School Culture by Jessical Cates-Bristol, LGSW and Lindsay Eidman, LICSW, presented at the 22nd Annual Conference on Advancing School Mental Health, sponsored by the Center for School Mental Health at the University of Maryland, on October 19-21, 2017  in Washington, DC 

Bridging the Gap: A Health Center and School Collaborate for Culturally Responsive Behavioral Health Care by Marisa Parrella, LICSW, LCSW-C and Marybeth Mangas, LICSW, LCSW-C, presented at the 22nd Annual Conference on Advancing School Mental Health, October 2017


Related Articles:

Minors, Mental Health and the Media: In Response to "13 Reasons Why" by Rachel Osborn

How To Help Children Cope with Anxiety by Marisa Parrella

Help When It Matters Most: The School Based Mental Health Program by Marisa Parrella

Unpacking the Backpack: Group Support for Newcomer Youth (students who are new immigrants to the US) by Rachel Osborn

Say STOP to Bullying by Vanessa Leon

Student Blossoms With Help From Mary’s Center (a student testimony)

Social Services


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