Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Student Mental Health and Wellness in K-12 High-Performing School Districts in Northern California: Best Practices for Educational Leaders
by Ramirez, Trista, Ed.D., University of Southern California, 2018, 118; 10829073
Abstract (Summary)

The purpose of this study was to identify the influence of mental health on student achievement in high-performing school districts in California and investigate how a focus on student wellness can support achievement on the school campus. This study also aimed to determine the best practices currently being utilized by high-performing school districts in California to effectively address prevention, intervention, and postvention in the areas of depression, anxiety, substance use, and suicidal ideation. A mixed-methods study was implemented with 56 high school site leaders who completed a 24-question survey about student mental health and wellness in their respective school districts. Ten current superintendents, 5 from Southern California and 5 from Northern California, were interviewed as well.

Through the process of triangulation, the study’s findings indicated that high expectations, pressure to succeed, and fierce competition are causing extreme levels of stress and anxiety for students in high-performing school districts, which can lead to concerns regarding suicidal ideation. These school districts have protocols and programs in place to address students struggling with various mental health concerns. A team approach allowed for the development of student support plans that allowed continued access to curriculum. Many districts have programs that are grounded in prevention and intervention to reduce student stress and create opportunities for support. Finally, the creation of policy change, such as adjusted calendars, bell schedules, and homework policies, seemed to solidify the student mental health and wellness programs within a school district. Overall, this study presents the best practices that are currently being employed within high-performing school districts to address student mental health and wellness.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Castruita, Rudy
Commitee: Garcia, Pedro, Park, Charles
School: University of Southern California
Department: Education
School Location: United States -- California
Source: DAI-A 79/11(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Mental health, Educational leadership, Educational psychology
Keywords: Anxiety, High performing school, Stress, Suicide, Wellness
Publication Number: 10829073
ISBN: 978-0-438-06890-2
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