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Research: Classroom Mental Health Supports in Middle School

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Background/Objectives: In a sociopolitical landscape characterized by growing student behavioral needs and stagnating or shrinking resources, school systems must become more efficient and promote shared ownership to support students. Teachers are critical stakeholders as we expand school mental health systems, yet they receive little training in mental health and are stretched thin by administrative demands and competing roles

Results:  Results from the quantitative study showed the impact of training and identity factors on teachers’ confidence to provide mental health support for students. Teachers’ race/ethnicity, years of teaching experience, and years at their current school impacted self-efficacy for mental health practices. On a measure of self-efficacy to engage in culturally responsive mental health practices (the CRCMSES), teachers’ gender, race/ethnicity, years of teaching experience, license pathway, special education coursework, school implementation of Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS), and current role impacted self-efficacy for culturally responsive mental health practices.

Qualitative results demonstrated the practices that teachers report using at school, as well as a variety of factors related to their use, including interpersonal facilitators, experiential facilitators, logistical facilitators, student barriers, role barriers, teacher capacity barriers, logistical barriers, and school context barriers.

Discussion: Implications for teacher pre-service training, professional development, and school contexts are discussed in relation to best practices for classroom mental health supports.