Date of Conferral

2016

Degree

Ph.D.

School

Psychology

Advisor

Cheryl Tyler-Balkcom

Abstract

Adolescents have a high rate of untreated mental health issues, specifically related to depression. Current literature does not indicate the impact of teachers' attitudes toward mental health on their decisions to refer students for services. This study provides understanding specifically, how teachers' beliefs about mental health, as well as their age, gender, ethnicity, years of education, and years of teaching, were analyzed to determine the impact each these characteristics had on the decision to refer a student for services. 92 high school teachers participated in this quantitative study by completing a survey measuring their attitudes of mental health, and then responding to scenarios on which they answered â??yesâ?? or â??noâ?? to indicate whether they would refer students for services in certain situations. This information was analyzed through multiple regression and descriptive analysis to determine the relationship these characteristics had with the decision to refer. The data suggested that teacher characteristics related to age (β = 1.516, t = 2.075, p < .05), gender (β = -3.336, t = -2.220, p < .05), psychological openness (F(5, 86) = 2.488, R2 = .126, p < .05), and indifference to stigma (F(1, 90) = 5.395, p =0.022) all impacted participants' decision to refer a student for services in the scenarios presented. This study has implications for social change in how teachers are trained concerning mental health awareness and the impact of their personal beliefs on their efforts to help adolescents' access mental health services. Increasing teacher awareness related to the issue of helping adolescents' access mental health services is the desired outcome of this study. Such change could result in adolescents gaining access to services for greater opportunity to reduce depressive symptomology.

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