Graduate School of Nursing
Dissertation Committee Chair
School Nursing, Students, Mental Health Services, Early Medical Intervention, Mental Disorders, Children
Community Health and Preventive Medicine | Mental and Social Health | Mental Disorders | Nursing | Pediatric Nursing
The purpose of this qualitative study was to explore school nurses’ (SN) perceptions of factors influencing their ability to identify, refer, and provide mental health services to students with early signs of mental, emotional, and behavioral (MEB) needs. The National Research Council and Institute of Medicine have urged a preventive public health approach to decrease adverse outcomes of unidentified and untreated MEB needs among children (O’Connell, 2009). Historically and theoretically based in public health, SN have daily contact with students and are in an optimal location for early identification, referral and provision of services, yet little empirical research describing their role is available.
Five focus groups with 29 SN were conducted and four themes emerged through analysis of data: Frequent flyers : student visits to SN offices, the observations that alert SN to potential MEB needs; Digging to get the whole picture : the process SN frequently used to collect information necessary to confirm MEB needs; Road to referral : the resources used and barriers encountered within the referral process; and, Safety zone : the important role SN play in the provision of services to students with early signs of MEB needs. Within the provision of services was a collective subtheme across all five focus groups: What we need to better help our kids. In this category SN identified their educational limitations and learning needs, as well as potential strategies to improve provision of services for students with MEB needs.
The findings of this study provide a lens into the complex and little explored are of early identification, referral and intervention processes used by SN to care for students with MEB needs. Understanding the role of the SN is a critical first step towards improving outcomes.
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Boland-Shepherd S. (2012). The Role of School Nurses in the Early Identification, Referral and Provision of Services for Students with Early Signs of Mental, Emotional or Behavioral Disorders: A Dissertation. Graduate School of Nursing Dissertations. https://doi.org/10.13028/f8ph-ht66. Retrieved from https://escholarship.umassmed.edu/gsn_diss/25