University of Rochester

Local Program with Global Reach Commended in Surgeon General's Report on Mental Health

December 16, 1999

U.S. Surgeon General David Satcher has cited the Primary Mental Health Project, which is based in Rochester and now serves children in 700 school districts around the world, in the first-ever Surgeon General's Report on Mental Health released this week.

He described PMHP as one of five exemplary programs in the nation "that focus on enhancing mental health and primary prevention of behavior problems and mental health disorders" in children. PMHP, which was developed 42 years ago by University of Rochester researchers, uses caring nonprofessionals to work one-on-one with children in school. Its goal is to build wellness rather than treat emotional damage later in life.

Deborah Johnson, director of community services, said she was honored to see PMHP included in such an elite group. "We are continuing to provide support throughout the country with quality programs for children," she said. "On the eve of the new millennium, we know that it is critical for children to have access to effective programs for their success in life."

Chapter 3 of the Satcher report on children and mental health released Dec. 13 lists PMHP's key elements: (1) a focus on primary grade children; (2) systematic use of brief objective screening measures for early identification of children in need; (3) use of carefully selected, trained, closely supervised nonprofessionals (called child associates) to establish a caring and trusting relationship with children; (4) a changing role for the school professionals on matters that promote good mental health in children and their families; and (5) ongoing program evaluation to ensure quality implementation.

PMHP, a not-for-profit educational organization with offices on South Avenue and Mt. Hope Avenue, develops early intervention programs based on continuing research and rigorous evaluation methods. It is funded by federal and state grants, United Way of Greater Rochester, local foundations and through fees for services.

For more information on PMPH, call (585) 262-2920 or check the Web at