Scattergood Foundation

Advancing Innovative Strategies for Change in Behavioral Health

Center for Collegiate Mental Health (CCMH)

Name of Innovative Program: 
Center for Collegiate Mental Health - Bringing Practice and Research Together.
Sponsoring Organization
Center for Collegiate Mental Health (CCMH)
Name of Innovative Program Lead: 
Ben Locke
E-mail Address of Innovative Program Lead:
Project Description: 
Representing 240 college and university counseling centers, the Center for Collegiate Mental Health (CCMH) is a grass-roots, multi-disciplinary, collaborative, “Practice-Research Network” (PRN). By bringing together scientists, practitioners, institutions of higher education, professional associations, and corporate partners in electronic medical-record (EMR) technologies CCMH strives to: (a) generate and disseminate high-quality information about college student mental health to the public, media, and policy makers in higher education; (b) generate free or low-cost clinical tools, that are clinically relevant and scientifically robust, to aid in the assessment and outcome monitoring of students in treatment; (c) empower counseling centers to effectively advocate for the resources; and (d) conduct large-scale research on college student mental health and the treatments provided. Although CCMH was founded recently (2005), our membership has grown quickly, we have been endorsed by the key leadership organizations associated with college student mental health. Our most recent data set (2012-2013) describes approximately 100,000 college students in treatment at 150 colleges and universities and represents the most comprehensive understanding of treatment-seeing college students available. This collaboratively generated data is helping to shape the future of college student mental health treatment, resource allocation, and policy. Full details about CCMH are available at the links below.
Creativity and Innovation: 
For more than 20 years, we have known of a growing crisis in college student mental health (lack of funding and services in the face of growing demand and severity) yet very little has changed. The vast majority of counseling centers continue to report being dramatically under-resourced and lacking the time to advocate for more. CCMH’s primary innovation was to collaboratively unite scientists and practitioners within the rapidly growing marketplace of electronic medical records (EMR’s) to build a  “data infrastructure” to pool de-identified and standardized data from participating counseling centers through participating EMR vendors. Although this was initially accomplished with minimal funding, the data infrastructure and center are now capable of continually informing helpful policies in higher education for mental health services, empowering centers to advocate for resources, distributing relevant clinical tools, and forging a new wave of research on mental health treatment among college students.
Achieving agreement on any task involving multiple stakeholders with competing perspectives, needs, and motivations is a challenging goal; leadership, decision making, and implementation will determine success. In approximately two years (2005-2007), CCMH facilitated a national process involving over 100 counseling centers to develop and implement (in an EMR) collaborative data standards (see SDS in links). These data standards are now in use by hundreds of institutions. Key ingredients of our leadership approach include: working conferences, member-driven dialogue, the pursuit of consensus with recognition of the greater good, a representative advisory board with decision making authority, active communication with representative professional associations, and constant accountability to our stakeholders. These ingredients have provided the counseling center field with a powerful economic voice that has been heard by business serving the field who, have since become partners. Our approach, while somewhat long-term in nature, can serve as model for others seeking similar change. 
CCMH was founded in 2005 with little more than an exciting idea among colleagues combined with a passion to make a lasting difference in the field of college student mental health. In the fall of 2013, we hired our first full-time employee. Over the years, our initial idealism has evolved to include fiscal sustainability as a core value. Sources of support for CCMH currently include member dues, institutional support, in-kind contributions from a corporate partner, minor profit-sharing arrangements, annual contributions from professional associations, grant applications, and a new revenue stream related to clinical tool distribution through EMR’s (see CCAPS below). Two foundation grants (Ittleson Foundation and van Ameringen) have contributed to the sustainability of CCMH, in part, by focusing our energies on the creation of a sustainable business model including developing revenue streams and funding a project manager in order to enable a focus on fiscal sustainability. 
The ingredients that contributed to the progress of CCMH collectively represent a creative model for addressing the needs of clinical service providers, researchers, and policy makers through multi-disciplinary collaboration around a set of mutually beneficial goals. In essence, CCMH has progressed by building an economy of data – an economy that motivates clinicians and mental health administrators to collaborate and compromise around data standards and clinical procedures; attracts researchers in need of data for research, publication, and grant-writing; develops corporate partners seeking to meet customer demands or attract new customers; and higher education administrators seeking to inform policy with relevant data. While the journey and mileposts will be different for each group of like-minded mental health providers, we can attest that our efforts, combined with a heavy dose of patience and persistence, are replicable. 
Perhaps the most important innovation underlying the work of CCMH is the integration of practice and science with technology. The results of this innovation are varied and include: growth from 0 to 240 members in under 9 years; annual data flow from participating centers that will soon exceed 100,000 clients per year; development, publication, and distribution of a variety of clinical tools and data standards; four annual reports with a fifth currently in production; dozens of publications in three years; etc. This primary innovation has also lead to the ability to measure (and document) mental health treatment outcomes in higher education as measured at the national level in the naturalistic setting. While still in process, we believe that the results of these analyses will drive new policies and funding models based on mounting the evidence that treatment works for both clients and the bottom line of institutions.