Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Social Work


School of Social Work

First Reader/Committee Chair

Gretchen Heidemann


An adolescent’s time in school is not merely academic; they are developing socially, physically, and emotionally. Prior research has demonstrated a correlation between a student’s poor academic performance and his/her need for emotional and mental health support. This research project sought to answer the following research questions: 1) Do mental health services in a high school setting help facilitate students’ academic achievement? and 2) Does a focus on mental health issues improve overall health and well-being in high school students? Participants for this study are 10 staff members (including teachers, administrators, counselors, and others) of a high school in San Diego, California. Qualitative data in the form of interviews was collected for this study, and subsequently transcribed and analyzed using a “bottom up” approach. Results of this study indicate adolescents have many challenges to their emotional health during their high school years and staff have unique access to assist youth in navigating these challenges. The study describes the need for more mental health professionals to be available in schools. Implications for micro include the need for more mental health staff including counselors and school social workers and the implications for macro practice include the need more staff and teacher training on how to better support students.