Date of Paper/Work


Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Leadership (Ed.D.)

Type of Paper/Work



Sarah Noonan, Jean-Pierre Bongila, Aura Wharton-Beck


Date iv ABSTRACT An action research study of practices used by educational professionals to meet the mental health needs of middle school students without a diagnosis was conducted to examine the challenges this creates in providing appropriate resources, structure, identification, and implementation of practices to support student mental health. This study examined experiences of district administration and educational professionals to identify existing practices used to refer students for support or interventions. Findings revealed teachers referred students for support based on attendance and behavioral concerns. Many teachers lacked an understanding of underlying problems or root causes leading to student behavioral issues. The existing support framework lacked a standardized identification tool to address student needs. Supports for students were based on the response to intervention (RTI) model (Buffum et al., 2009). Identified students received the Tier 2 level of support, rather than a Tier 1 level involving teacher-provided interventions for students’ social and emotional development. An analysis conducted through the theoretical lens of Patton’s (2014) interpretation of complexity theory and Erikson’s (1950/1993) eight stages of psychosocial development revealed the complexities inherent in providing student mental health support resources and accommodations based on student development and mental health concerns. Support included appropriate staffing, modifying school schedules, using identification tools, changing the delivery of services and curriculum, and interventions tailored to a school setting. Finally, this study confirmed the value of implementing a true RTI-tiered level of service model to facilitate effective mental health interventions within the middle school setting.


mental health, middle-school students, social emotional health, action research, social emotional learning

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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