Doctor of Education
For students to be successful in school, all their needs must be met. Mental and emotional well-being are core conditions for overall health necessary to lead a happy and productive life, to form healthy relationships, and to successfully adjust to change and overcome difficulties (Burton, Pavord, & Williams, 2014; Minnesota Department of Health, 2002). School-based mental health (SBMH) is one method for schools to make a positive change on the mental health status of children. The prevalence of mental health disorders in youth is increasing at an alarming rate. One in five students in America’s public schools have significant mental health needs (NAMI, 2015; NIMH, 2010). A significant concern is that the majority of these students in need of mental health services are actually untreated. To address the many unmet mental health needs facing America’s students, SBMH programs have been implemented in some schools.
The purpose of this study is to determine the perceived barriers to developing successful SBMH programs. The study is based upon two surveys. The first survey was to be completed by faculty, and focused on their perceptions of the mental health needs and practices of the SBMH program. The second survey was completed by the implementation team and focused on the stages of implementation of the SBMH program. The research showed that SBMH programs are needed because each participant had experienced working with students who exhibited behaviors associated with mental health issues. The major barriers to implementing an SBMH program identified by the research include stigma, funding sources, and language and cultural barriers while working with culturally diverse students and families. The major benefits to implementing an SBMH program identified by the research include improved school connectedness, a more positive relationship with home and school, and students being less likely to “fall through the cracks.” These findings are beneficial for schools that are looking at implementing a SBMH program.