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School Leadership and School Mental Health: An Exploratory Study of SMH Content in the Preparation of Principals

Caparelli, Sielke Mary (2012) School Leadership and School Mental Health: An Exploratory Study of SMH Content in the Preparation of Principals. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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The increasing prevalence of K-12 students with mental health disorders is of great concern because research has shown that these children are at increased risk for academic failure. Accordingly, this study explored two intersecting fields of study – school mental health (SMH) and education administration, first examining the literature on the definition and prevalence of children’s mental health disorders, the history of the SMH movement, and SMH competencies for school leaders.
What follows is an exploratory, multiple case study to determine the extent of SMH content within five nationally ranked U.S. principal preparation programs. A mixed methods analysis used text data derived from program mission statements, syllabi, faculty curriculum vitae documents and one program director interview. More than 94 documents were analyzed for SMH text evidence, resulting in 161 text units. These units then were coded by SMH dimension as well as by syllabi context (e.g., assignments, readings, and course objectives). Further inductive analysis revealed 14 SMH topics. Some text units reflected concepts that might be related to SMH (e.g., collaboration, community, and school culture). However, the terms “school mental health” and “children’s mental health” never appeared in any documents, suggesting a lack of attention to the critical importance of children’s mental health disorders and their contribution to poor school performance. Implications of the results as well as recommendations for improving national policy, state standards, local collaborations and higher education preparation programs for school leaders are discussed. These recommendations include promoting better collaboration of national SMH and educational administration leaders in policy forums, incorporating student mental health as a priority in national guidelines for the preparation of school and district leaders, and rethinking preparation programs to improve the capacity of school leaders for developing and sustaining SMH partnerships.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Caparelli, Sielke
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairKerr, Mary Margaretmmkerr@pitt.eduMMKERR
Committee MemberTrovato, Charlenetrovato@pitt.eduTROVATO
Committee MemberBickel, Williambickel@pitt.eduBICKEL
Committee MemberMichael,
Date: 29 August 2012
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 19 July 2012
Approval Date: 29 August 2012
Submission Date: 7 August 2012
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 215
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: School of Education > Administrative and Policy Studies
Degree: EdD - Doctor of Education
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: school mental health school leadership educational administration children's mental health principal preparation
Date Deposited: 29 Aug 2012 18:58
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 14:01


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