An Open Access article published in the Health Behavior and Policy Review Journal.
The full article is available as a PDF download.
Linda Weiss, PhD
Marilyn Jacob, PhD, LCSW
Maya Scherer, MPH
Anna Borkina, MS
In this paper, we describe results from stakeholder interviews conducted to assess implementation and perceived outcomes of a project, implemented in 92 New York City middle and high schools, and focused on building the mental health-related skills of school personnel and promotion of healthier school environments.
As part of a mixed-methods evaluation, we conducted 59 key stakeholder interviews with staff of participating community-based organizations and schools. Interview topics included mental health needs, project activities, engagement by school staff, strengths and challenges of the initiative, and perceived impact.
At the start of the project, interviewees reported difficulty comprehending the model and accepting its utility, given the direct service needs of students. Although concerns remained, we found positive impact, including increased awareness of mental health issues and their root causes, a greater sensitivity to students’ social and emotional challenges, and improved capacity to manage behavioral issues in the classroom.
Although targeted approaches are needed for high-risk youth, population-level approaches may increase mental health knowledge and skills and support transformation leading to healthier school environments.