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Bridge for Resilient Youth in Transition (BRYT)
In the United States, one in every five adolescents has a serious mental health disorder and five to nine percent of teens have mental health concerns so severe that they necessitate hospitalization or result in prolonged absences from school. Compared to their peers, these youth disproportionately drop out of school, attempt suicide, abuse alcohol and drugs, and function poorly at home, school, and/or in their social lives.
For students who experience hospitalization or prolonged absences due to mental illness, school re-entry is overwhelming, fraught with problems including depression, anxiety, and fear of social rejection. They are at high risk for academic failure and their families are often in crisis as they try to navigate a maze of medical and mental health systems. For many students, the disruption of their education is the first episode of what may become a lifelong mental health disorder. Without appropriate and timely treatment, a single mental health emergency in adolescence can lead to a lifetime of poor functioning.
What We Do
Over a decade ago, Brookline Community Mental Health Center launched Bridge for Resilient Youth in Transition (BRYT, pronounced “bright”), an innovative, school-based program that addresses the needs of students re-entering school after absences due to serious mental health or medical illness. BRYT recognizes that both mental health and academic supports are necessary for successful reentry and this model has proven to be highly effective – helping vulnerable students develop resilience, regain health, maintain social connection, and continue and complete their high school education.
The BRYT transition program is one of the only programs in the country that systematically addresses the needs of students returning to school following extended mental health-related absences. The BRYT transition model has four key elements:
- A dedicated classroom, open and staffed every day, every period
- At least two full-time staff, one a clinician and the other an academic support professional
- Four types of support services: clinical, care coordination, academic support, and family support
- Transition planning and continued engagement with the student, family, other school staff, and outside providers from reentry to the student’s return to class full time (typically eight to 12 weeks)
A Brief History of BRYT
The first BRYT program opened in 2004 at Brookline High School as a collaboration between Brookline Community Mental Health Center and BHS.
Since then, transition programs using the BRYT model have been developed in 40 schools in Massachusetts and are available to approximately 49,000 secondary school students statewide. Students who might otherwise have left school after an acute mental health crisis are returning to their classrooms with the support of these programs. BRYT has become a flourishing network of transition programs, and in 2014 was awarded the American Psychiatric Association’s Gold Achievement Award for innovative community based programs.
Our Next Steps
Recently the Brookline Center carried out a formal program evaluation that demonstrated the effectiveness of transition programs in improving student outcomes, and engaged in a focused strategic planning process that included identification of a significant need for transition programs in Massachusetts and nationally. On the basis of this work, over the next five years BRYT will focus on three strategic priorities:
- Establish BRYT as the norm in Massachusetts schools, making the program available to 25 percent of all Massachusetts public high school students by 2019
- Provide national education regarding BRYT’s effectiveness and expand BRYT in new geographies
- Position BRYT within fields focused on school-based supports, with a sustainable program office to implement the strategy
Brookline Community Mental Health Center is thankful to many supporters of BRYT, including:
Cabot Family Foundation
Klarman Family Foundation
MetroWest Health Foundation
Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
Contact us for information about the BRYT transition program, establishing/ developing a new program, and/or technical assistance for an existing program.
- Paul Hyry-Dermith, M.A., Ed.D., Director, BRYT email@example.com or 413.219.8587
- Katherine Houle, LICSW, Associate Director, BRYT firstname.lastname@example.org or 617.312.1979
- Jenny Lafleur, M.S., Program Evaluator, BRYT email@example.com
- Megan Harding, MSW, BRYT Family Engagement Specialist firstname.lastname@example.org or 413.695.2495
For information about the BRYT Program at Brookline High School:
- Annie Eagle, LICSW, Program Coordinator email@example.com or 617.731.5021
Henry White, M.D., is Clinical Director at Brookline Community Mental Health Center and the founder and executive leader of BRYT. He can be reached at 617.277.8107 or firstname.lastname@example.org