Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


School Psychology


There exists a dearth of research literature devoted to informing mental health practice in rural areas. However, what little research that does exist surrounding children’s mental wellness in rural places describes mental health programs as being smaller, under-served versions of their urban counterparts (National Association for Rural Mental Health, 2001). Mental health collaboration in rural areas is a clear need and an ongoing challenge. This study aims to address these concerns by reviewing relevant theories, analyzing one rural community’s mental health needs, and identifying next steps in mental health service delivery for this community.

Additional research surrounding the mental health of children in schools indicates that children benefit most from mental health services when the context of both the individual child and the child’s environment is taken into account (Bronfenbrenner, 1979). Further, when taking the individual and systemic levels into account, research indicates that ideal delivery systems incorporate a preventative, public health model approach that uses a Multi-Tiered System of Support (MTSS). (Friedman, 2003). One way to effect change such as this is to create a school-family-community partnership. Such partnership allows previously separate organizations to create a common mission, streamline services, reduce redundancies, and enhance communication between professionals.

This study utilized a qualitative case study design of a rural county in the Midwestern United States, addressing the following research questions: How does one identify and enhance collaborations in rural mental health? What are barriers to creating an integrated system of support for children, adolescents, and families? What do community members see as the biggest concern for youth and the system currently serving them? What supportive services and resources already exist and can be built upon? In reviewing the literature, what is available or recommended to support the community in addressing its concerns?

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.