Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP)

Committee Chair

Cindy Miller


This Capstone Project explored the impact of providing a staff development program to educators in a public school setting to address rising concerns over unmet student mental health needs in this school setting. Student mental health response and referral had become prominent concerns in the project school. The project leader developed two separate sessions addressing adolescent depression and mental health. The sessions, facilitated by the project leader and the project implementation team, represented the interprofessional disciplines of nursing, counseling, and social work. Each session addressed issues of confidentiality, definition and signs/symptoms of each conditions, common treatments, evidenced-based classroom strategies and interventions, and instruction in a simple, efficient school-wide referral process for educators to utilize to refer students of concern to the building-based student support team. The participants (91.11% of potential sample) demonstrated integration of the newly developed student mental health referral procedure as evidenced by 213 referrals in the six-month post-implementation period. Evaluation measures post-project were overwhelming positive with all respondents answering strongly agree or agree to all project targets (improved identification of adolescent depression/anxiety, awareness of common treatments and side effects, knowledge of evidenced-based classroom interventions, the new school-wide referral process, and understanding of the legal obligations of confidentiality regarding student mental health information. Upon a two-month follow-up survey, 91.66% of teachers surveyed had implemented at least one evidenced-based classroom strategy, and 97.22% of respondents reported greater comfort levels accessing student support services. There was also an 80% reduction in psychiatric emergencies from the previous school year.

Creative Commons License

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