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Comparing Stakeholders’ Knowledge and Beliefs About Supporting Students’ Social, Emotional, and Behavioral Health in Schools

Abstract

Schools can play a significant role in promoting timely access to mental health services by utilizing proactive approaches to identifying and supporting students’ social, emotional, and behavioral needs. However, recent data suggest that few schools in the USA are taking such proactive approaches. Given that implementation of school-based programs is determined by a complex interplay of influences at multiple levels (i.e., individual, innovation, environment), more research is needed to understand the perceptions of stakeholders representing each of these unique levels. The purpose of this study was therefore to compare stakeholders’ knowledge, beliefs, and opinions regarding school-based approaches to identifying and supporting students at risk of SEB challenges. Survey responses were obtained from district administrators, school building administrators, school support staff, teachers, and parents within 1330 school districts across the USA. Although some differences across groups were noted, patterns generally supported that stakeholders (a) reported being knowledgeable about social, emotional, and behavioral problems and the school-based approaches to identifying and assessing them, (b) believed that student social, emotional, and behavioral problems should be a prioritized concern and identified using screening procedures, and (c) perceived moderate amounts of pressure to change social, emotional, and behavioral screening practices from different sources in their communities. In addition, respondents across stakeholder groups reported consistently strong agreement that screening should be used to proactively identify not only which students are exhibiting internalizing/externalizing problems, but also which students possess various risk and resilience factors.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    The weighted root mean square residual (WRMR) is available. However, this statistic is not reported as it is still considered experimental and not recommend with large sample sizes (cf, DiStefano, Liu, Jiang & Shi, 2018).

  2. 2.

    Recall that the negative here is simply due to the contrast. The negative in this case indicates that school support staff have greater knowledge as the contrast was coded as building administrator minus school support staff.

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Acknowledgements

Special thanks are provided to all survey participants for their time, and appreciation is extended to research team members for their assistance on the project.

Funding

Preparation of this article was supported by funding provided by the Institute of Education Sciences, US Department of Education (R305A140543: PI Chafouleas). Opinions expressed herein do not necessarily reflect the position of the US Department of Education, and as such, endorsements should not be inferred.

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Correspondence to Amy M. Briesch.

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All procedures performed were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki Declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards. The study was deemed exempt from obtaining signed written consent from participants in accordance with HHS regulations at 45 CFR 46.117(c). This article does not contain any studies with animals performed by any of the authors.

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Briesch, A.M., Cintron, D.W., Dineen, J.N. et al. Comparing Stakeholders’ Knowledge and Beliefs About Supporting Students’ Social, Emotional, and Behavioral Health in Schools. School Mental Health 12, 222–238 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12310-019-09355-9

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Keywords

  • School-based risk identification
  • Behavioral screening
  • Stakeholder beliefs