Publication Date


Document Type


Committee Members

Noah Schroeder, Ph.D. (Committee Chair); Jennifer Hughes, Ph.D. (Committee Member); Josh Francis, Ph.D. (Committee Member); Adrianne Johnson, Ph.D. (Committee Member)

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


The state of youth behavioral health in the United States was a public health crisis before the overwhelming challenges presented by the coronavirus disease 19 (COVID-19) pandemic, and now, the situation is even more dire. The impacts of youth behavioral health challenges are pervasive and long-lasting for youth, their families, and the entire community. It is critical to identify innovative ways that youth behavioral health is being addressed in schools and understand how comprehensive school mental health systems including multi-tiered system of support teams are functioning. This comparative case study investigated the functioning of two high school multi-tiered system of support teams in the context of responding to students with behavioral health needs. This study was investigated through the lens of Bronfenbrenner’s Bioecological Model of Human Development with a focus on the student, school, and community level. Individual interviews were conducted with nine MTSS team members from two Midwest high schools. One team utilized a traditional school behavioral health model, and the other school had a school navigator. The data were analyzed and organized into 27 different codes, five of which were represented in all participant interviews and were representative of the broader themes: Structure, Division of Labor, Behavioral Health Resources, Barriers, and Student Needs. Structure, division of labor, data and evaluation were identified as key challenges for the functioning of MTSS teams. The utilization of universal behavioral health screening and knowledge of behavioral health resources for students were two of the most critical differences in team functioning. While there were differences that were meaningful to the functioning of the teams, there were more similarities than differences in their functioning. Opportunities to support student mental health, expand the development of comprehensive student behavioral health systems, and further support education professionals in practice and through future research opportunities were identified.

Page Count


Department or Program

Department of Leadership Studies in Education and Organizations

Year Degree Awarded