Open Access Senior Honors Thesis
Department or School
Dr. Jillian Graves
Dr. Angie Mann-Williams
Dr. Jennifer Kellman-Fritz
Bullying and suicide is one of the most important contemporary issues among school-aged youth in America today. Chronic rates of mental health issues have stimulated increased focus on the role that school social workers have in tackling these issues. This thesis highlights the interconnections between school social worker roles, funding allocations, resource availability, and the prevalence of bullying and suicidality within schools. It does this by comparing the experiences of five school social workers in the rural Upper Peninsula and urban Lower Peninsula of Michigan. It does this through the analysis of interviews with these social workers and the identification of prominent themes that emerged during the interview process. This thesis found links between the amount of time that social workers were able to spend in each school and their understanding of issues surrounding bullying, mental health, and suicidality within their schools. This was directly impacted by the allocation of funds and the limitation of the populations in which their roles required them to work. Additionally, the availability of community mental health resources was discussed, as well as the relationship that this has on social worker caseloads and outcomes for students. Also highlighted was how these issues affect LGBTQ youth, a population that has been identified as being at increased risk for mental health issues, bullying, and suicidality during adolescence.
Lancour, Paige, "Understanding the experiences of school social workers in the upper and lower peninsulas of Michigan: Adolescent mental health and suicidality" (2019). Senior Honors Theses and Projects. 640.