Publication Date


Advisor(s) - Committee Chair

Stacy Leggett, Marguerita DeSander, Kimberlee Everson

Degree Program

Department of Educational Administration, Leadership, and Research

Degree Type

Doctor of Education


The COVID-19 pandemic increased concerns for anxiety and depression in adolescents (Jones et al., 2021). As these concerns increased, students’ coping skills and mental health declined (Meherali et al., 2021). This mixed-methods study based in improvement science sought to develop mental health supports for teachers and students in a secondary setting. A mental health team convened for the purpose of this study completed a root cause analysis for a high school to determine the barriers to mental health supports. We identified the problem and potential barriers preventing proper mental health education and supports for teachers, students, and parents. The analysis also included a review of relevant articles, surveys and interviews with staff, and an analysis of data.

This study included two interventions providing teachers with knowledge and supports to effectively support students. The first intervention focused on teacher learning. The mental health team developed the initial session based on what students were experiencing during the COVID-19 quarantine and what triggers to identify during virtual lessons. The team then took content suggestions from teachers, and subsequent sessions focused on teacher needs and contained question sections to focus on specific student needs.

Based on feedback garnered from a post-intervention survey, Intervention 2 involved teachers working and learning alongside students. Teachers delivered instruction focused on stress, stress triggers, and coping skills. The resources allowed teachers to learn about and understand specific mental distresses most students felt, and then apply the information to the lesson while assessing students’ current knowledge and coping skills with stress. Teachers were interviewed after Intervention 2 and reported their perceptions of the curriculum. The data supported the notion of a positive increase in teacher knowledge of mental distress and confidence in working with students.

The results of this study suggest teachers feel more comfortable and confident in recognizing and helping students experiencing mental distress when they participate in professional development tailored to specific concerns. Collaborating with students builds relationships, and both groups developed a better knowledge of mental health and wellness. In this study, teacher perceptions of their abilities and school-provided supports for students improved.


Curriculum and Instruction | Education | Mental and Social Health | Secondary Education | Teacher Education and Professional Development