Date of Award

Winter 1-9-2014

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Counseling and Psychological Services

First Advisor

Dr. Catherine Y. Chang

Second Advisor

Dr. Brian J. Dew

Third Advisor

Dr. Andrea L. Dixon

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Natalie K. Grubbs

Abstract

Youth living in the United States are experiencing increasing rates of mental health issues (New Freedom Commission on Mental Health, 2003; U.S. Department of Education, 2006) and are less likely to receive mental health services (U.S.DHHS, 2009). Children and adolescent mental health services are fragmented, often times ineffective, and difficult to obtain (Brown, 2006; Center for Mental Health in Schools, 2008; Jacob, 2008). Children of color and children living in poverty (ASCA, 2009; Panigua, 2005; Shavers, 2013; and Vera, Buhin, & Shin, 2006), are more likely than their peers to experience mental health disorders and less likely to receive outside mental health services (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services,1999; U.S. National Institute of Mental Health, 2001). Professional school counselors, play a significant role in identifying, meeting and connecting students in need of additional mental health services (ASCA, 2012; Jacob, 2008) and are advised to collaborate with community agencies to better meet the mental health needs of all their students (ASCA, 2009; ASCA, 2012).

If left untreated, mental health issues can have a direct impact on students’ learning and academic performance (Adelman & Taylor, 2006). In response, there have been many recent initiatives to promote mental health in schools, including H.R. 628: Mental Health in Schools Act currently being considered by a United States congressional committee. School-based mental health counseling programs (SBMHCPs) have been implemented to address the fragmented mental health delivery system for children and adolescents needing mental health services (Center for Mental Health in Schools, 2003; New Freedom Commission on Mental Health, 2003; & Surgeon General Report on Mental Health, 1999).

There is limited research about SBMHCPs from the perspective of those who have been addressing the mental health needs of students for decades—professional school counselors and professional school counselor educators. This qualitative study examined professional school counselors’ and counselor educators’ experiences working collaboratively with school-based mental health counselors. Seventeen school counselors (n=17) and five (n=5) counselor educators participated in a structured online questionnaire. Phenomenological data analysis methods were used to analyze the results (Hays & Woods, 2011; Moustakas, 1994). Results describe professional school counselor and counselor educator’s perceptions about school-based mental health programs, the roles of professional school counselors and school-based mental health counselors, training recommendations, and funding issues related to school-based mental health programs.

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