Boldly Growing bryt’s Statewide Impact

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A transformation of how schools support students and families who have experienced a mental health disruption

For students who experience a mental health-related disruption in their education, most schools are ill-equipped to help them return to school, resume a normal course schedule, succeed academically, and reintegrate socially. Nationwide, roughly 50% of students with serious mental health challenges drop out of school. 

The Brookline Center’s bryt program is changing this trajectory, transforming how schools support students with the most serious mental health challenges and school culture around mental health. 

Established as a stand-alone program at Brookline High School in 2004, bryt has been adopted by schools serving over 50% of Massachusetts public high school students, as well as 40 middle and elementary schools across the state. The last seven years have been a period of intensive growth fueled by numerous philanthropies, including significant funding from the Ruderman Family Foundation, and Brookline Center supporters. Over the past few years, bryt has quietly begun soft-launching a national expansion. School districts in seven states, from New York to Oregon, have launched bryt programs. 

Bryt aims to make its highly successful intervention available to as many young people as possible. “Bryt creates a space for students to access the academic, clinical, and social support they need to re-integrate into school and get back on track,” says bryt Director Paul Hyry-Dermith. “More than 90% of students who participate in bryt continue on to graduate. 

As a result of two major public investments in late 2023, bryt will soon accelerate its Massachusetts expansion. With a $3-million grant from SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) and an anticipated $10-million allocation of federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds by the Massachusetts Legislature, bryt will intensify its efforts to advance program replication in the state’s largest high schools and schools in its most economically challenged and under-resourced communities. 

Over the next three years, bryt will use this public funding to seed fund programs at dozens of schools. The first schools to launch will include Boston’s John D. O’Bryant School, Brockton High School, Everett High School, Lynn Vocational Technical Institute, Malden High School, Springfield’s High School of Commerce, Springfield Legacy Academy, and Taunton High School. 

Says Hyry-Dermith, “This funding will allow us to support schools that have wanted to implement bryt for years but until now have lacked the resources to get things started. We are grateful to our partners in the Legislature for such an incredible investment.”