Establishing and Maintaining Important Relationships in School Mental Health Research
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For this article, we investigated a complicated (and hypothesized, little-studied) area in school mental health research: namely how researchers establish and maintain successful relationships with key stakeholders in school settings. We identified key stakeholders that school mental health researchers have to consider when engaging in school-based research. Parents, youth, teachers, school leadership, school mental health professionals, district-level leaders, and community mental health partners are each specific stakeholders who may have differing (or even competing) agendas than that of the research team. In addition, professionals within these groups may have concerns or even suspicions about the researchers’ involvement in their school. To better understand these complex relational issues, we conducted a survey of leading school mental health researchers based on a convenience sample of researchers who attended a national school mental health research summit in October 2012. The survey data revealed that successful school mental health researchers have to continually work at creating and maintaining good relationships with school stakeholders, and consider these relationships crucial to conducting this research. In this article, we will describe barriers to recruitment and implementation and methods of overcoming the challenges identified in several case studies of school-based research in published articles and from our survey data. We present this information and propose a preliminary best practice model to developing and maintaining relationships with school professionals in SMH research.
KeywordsSchool mental health research Stakeholders Survey Barriers to conducting school research
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