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Mental Health Literacy: Addressing Anxiety and Depression in the Classroom

Miner, Michelle Wisda (2021) Mental Health Literacy: Addressing Anxiety and Depression in the Classroom. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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As many as 20-25% percent of students show signs of a mental health disorder in the United States today. Anxiety is the number one mental health concern that educators and counselors face worldwide. Educators in the United States lack foundational pedagogical knowledge regarding understanding mental health disorders and the implications of such disorders within elementary classrooms. Without the skills and knowledge needed to address mental health concerns, teachers attempt to meet the complex demands of students but lack the training to help their students succeed.
This study utilized a virtual book study format with an elementary staff. Twenty-seven participants examined three chapters from the book Helping Students Overcome Depression and Anxiety by Kenneth W. Merrell (2008). Chapters focused on foundational knowledge of internalizing disorders and framed a common language for discussions surrounding mental health concerns.
Quantitatively, this researcher gathered results through pre- and post- surveys of knowledge. Participants self-rated perception of that knowledge. Qualitatively, this researcher administered an open-ended reflection question at the study's end.
This study utilized pseudonyms for anonymity with 24 paired responses available for analysis through a Wilcoxon Signed Rank Test. This researcher reviewed seventeen open-ended responses through content analysis.
Findings were statistically significant. Participants had increased knowledge gains and increased perceptions of that knowledge. The results showed an initial lack of foundational knowledge and a lack of perceived understanding of mental health concerns specific to depression and anxiety and significant gains for both at the end (post-survey performance was almost a consensus of perfect scores for identifying symptoms of anxiety and depression).
By committing to a research study on mental health literacy, it was evident that educators were willing to learn more and recognized this lack of knowledge. A condensed virtual book study experience significantly impacted foundational knowledge. If we want to address the rise in mental health concerns within schools, we must give staff opportunities and knowledge to do so.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Miner, Michelle Wisdamwm45@pitt.edumwm45
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairKerr, Mary
Committee MemberTrovato,
Committee MemberNelson, Melissa
Date: 31 August 2021
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 7 June 2021
Approval Date: 31 August 2021
Submission Date: 23 July 2021
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 71
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: mental health literacy, anxiety and depression in children, elementary leadership, virtual book study, professional development, elementary education, social and emotional learning, whole child
Date Deposited: 31 Aug 2021 17:29
Last Modified: 31 Aug 2021 17:29


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