34 Pages

The Primary Mental Health Project: Thirty Years After

ByEmory L. Cowen A. Dirk Hightower

The Primary Mental Health Project (PMHP) began as a small pilot project in one school in 1957, prompted by two earthy, clinical obselVations: (1) Classroom teachers often reported that 40-60% of their time was preempted by the problems of 2, 3, or 4 children, in a class of 25-30, resulting in detriments to those youngsters, the rest of the class, and the teachers' own sense of accomplishment and well-being; (2) Equally striking was the obselVation of a sharp rise in mental health referrals during the transition between elementary and high school. Review of dog-eared, cumulative records of referred children often revealed problems dating back to the primary grades. Either helping resources for those youngsters had not been available or people had hoped that their troubles would disappear.