Date of Conferral



Doctor of Social Work (DSW)


Social Work


Mary Bold


Children go to school for approximately 32 hours each week of an academic year. Many children who are in need of mental health treatment do not get the services they need because of barriers such as lack of access and stigma. Teachers are one of the primary sources of referrals for children's mental health services, and they often make referrals based on their perceptions of their students' mental health needs. Although teachers are typically the primary source of referrals for mental health services, they usually do not have any specialized mental health training. The purpose of this study was to gain insight into the perceived needs of teachers' in Title I schools on what is needed to help their students with emotional and behavioral problems. This research study was framed by Bronfenbrenner's bioecological model, which provides one framework for research and practice of school-based mental health. Bronfenbrenner's theory explains the impact of a child's interrelations with classmates, peers, parents, community, and society upon his or her development, particularly his or her mental health. Data was collected from audiotaped face-to-face interviews with 12 Title I elementary teachers. The interviews were then transcribed, coded, and several themes were identified. Relevant themes included the school's role in mental health, the school's current plan to help children, quality of mental health services, barriers to services, supports at school for mental health; reasons for referrals, administration training and classes on mental health, behavioral management systems, and changes to classrooms that will benefit children with mental health problems. Teachers are on frontlines everyday with students and should have all the training that's needed to help their students be successful.