Key Priorities, Challenges and Opportunities to Advance an Integrated Mental Health and Education Research Agenda

To improve and promote students’ success and wellness, and to address the research to practice gap, an integrated mental health and education research agenda is needed. Mental health and education researchers must work together to identify, examine and translate school interventions and program findings to serve families they serve.

Towards this end, a thought leader dialogue was held in September 2011 with 35 participants representing many fields. This interdisciplinary meeting agenda focused on the Institute of Medicine (IOM) report “Preventing Mental, Emotional and Behavioral Disorders Among Young People: Progress and Possibilities.” Meeting participants discussed the implications of the IOM report in both breakout groups and in large group discussion. Three independent note takers documented the meeting; their notes were coded and reviewed. Quantitative analysis of the meeting resulted in identification of key themes across three categories: priorities, challenges, and opportunities. 

  1. Key priorities emerged, including research methods and procedures, role definitions and collaboration, and funding and sustainability.
  2. Key challenges emerged, including field discipline differences, external validity limitations and practical limitations.
  3. Key opportunities for integration emerged, including research methods, collaboration and funding.

While more mental health professionals participated than education professionals, the findings of this thought leader dialogue outline important progress and application in mental health and education research, with the aim to close the gap between research and practice.