Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Educational Leadership

First Advisor

Dr. Jeanne L. Surface


School administrators play a crucial role in the development and implementation of mental health systems that allow all students access to universal, preventative interventions and services. Understanding their perspectives about the fundamental features of effective Expanded School Mental Health systems is critical to understanding the research to practice gap as it relates to the successful implementation of school-based mental health services. Furthermore, it is necessary to understand administrators’ perspectives about the training and supports teachers need to increase knowledge, confidence, and self-efficacy in the delivery of effective school mental health services. The purpose of this pragmatic qualitative research study was to explore elementary school administrators’ perspectives of the essential elements that lead to successful development, implementation, and sustainability of effective Expanded School Mental Health programs and services. For the purpose of this study, five elementary school administrators in an urban Midwestern school district were chosen to participate in semi-structured interviews to 1) gain their perspectives about the most concerning behavioral, emotional, and mental health issues observed in students in the school environment, 2) obtain an understanding of administrators’ beliefs about what constitutes and defines an effective Expanded School Mental Health system, and 3) acquire information about the training administrators believe are necessary for school personnel to better support students within these systems. The findings from this study revealed that when elementary administrators were asked to identify the most concerning mental health issues seen in schools, the common themes centered around physical aggression, the inability to use coping strategies to self-regulate emotions, and self-harm. Second, the participants in this study described many of the common core features of Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS), Multi-tiered Systems of Support (MTSS), and the Interconnected Systems Framework (ISF) as being necessary for the effective development, implementation, and sustainability of Expanded School Mental school-based mental health systems and services. Finally, professional development in the areas of mental health literacy (e.g., identifying the characteristics of mental health conditions, strategies to intervene with students, and ways to support students in gaining access to mental health services) were identified as critical training areas for teachers. Additionally, administrators specifically mentioned the use of ongoing coaching as being the most beneficial methodology for effective teacher training.


A Dissertation Presented to the Faculty of the Graduate College of the University of Nebraska in Partial Fulfillment of Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Education. Copyright 2019 Melissa M. Petersen.

Included in

Education Commons