Founded in 2018 by Andy Danilchick and Mike Nakkula and based at Penn's Graduate School of Education, The Project for Mental Health and Optimal Development explores the role mental health plays in development among children, youth, and the adults who support them.

 The project has an array of school-based programs and research projects that aim to support all groups in K–12 communities: 

  • The Consortium for Mental Health and Optimal Development helps school district teams build mental health capacity and implement interventions. We integrate improvement science into supporting each team developing a comprehensive mental health strategic plan. 
  • The Mental Health and Optimal Development Toolbox provides resources and strategies that individuals, groups, or school organizations can use to manage mental health and growth opportunities.
  • Certificate Program: We offer a certificate in Mental Health for teachers, staff, and leaders.
  • The Mental Health Summit is a national event that supports teams from school districts and educational organizations in improving their mental health capacity.
  • The Possibility Mentoring program uses group mentoring in middle schools to help children explore their interests, strengths, and potential life and career pathways.
  • The Global Possibility Network (GPN) includes collaborations around the world that focus on possibility development for children and youth within the contexts of schools, families, and communities.
  • In Summer 2020, we created the Planning for Uncertainty Guide as part of our commitment to help K–12 educators and schools navigate the challenging mental health landscape of the COVID-19 era. The case studies were created in the context of the early COVID-19 era. The uncertainty mindset planning template and resources remain useful today.

Find more information on our partners, consortia, and resources we offer.

Contact Us

Andy Danilchick
Director, Project for Mental Health and Optimal Development
(215) 746-4224

Mary DiSangro