Current Research Topics

Fall 2021 – Spring 2022

Group 1 The Exploration of Peer-Based Mental Health Service Model

The present study aims to explore the existing models of peer-based mental health service models as much as possible and potentially modify some of them so that the models can be used to serve the college student population better. The work that is aimed to be finished in the semester of fall 2021 will be considered as preliminary work of the overall study. There will be a total of two stages for this phase. In stage I, all the related information (e.g., peer-based mental health service models, college student counseling) will be gathered from websites, literature, and other open resources. The goal I of stage I is to evaluate the existing peer-based models, understand their goals and aims, and understand their operation mechanisms.

At the same time, goal II is to research the literature that discussed the efficacy of peer-based mental health services and to review them for purpose of finding theoretical supports for the new strategy. In stage II, all the information obtained from stage I will be integrated and discussed. The discussion will include if it is necessary to develop a new model or modify an existing to meet the need of college student population and the direction where the new model should go. A review paper is expected to be created by the end of stage II, discussing if the peer-based mental health service is plausible, ethical, and what are some potential research gaps as well as directions that are needed for this strategy. Meta-analysis is expected to be used if the literature in the field is of adequate amount. After completing this phase of the study, the goal and aims of the next phase should be discussed at the end of Fall 2021. There is no need for IRB documents
for this phase of the study.

Group 2 School climate and mental health issues in adolescences

This study is motivated by the importance of improving mental health, specifically, adolescent mental health, the essential role of school and education in adolescent mental health, and the significance of converting adolescent antisocial and delinquent behavior into prosocial behavior. Kieling et al. (2011) and Knifton and Quinn (2013) identified improving people’s mental health and wellbeing as one of the most important public health issues currently. The World Health Organization (WHO) has also suggested that “there is no health without mental health” (World Health Organization, 2013). However, the prevalence of adolescent mental health problems has increased significantly over the past few decades. Approximately 20% of adolescent around the world have mental health problems nowadays (World Health Organization, 2005). Therefore, it is of current research interest to investigate strategies to improve adolescent mental health. School and education are crucial for adolescent mental health and wellbeing situations due to the large proportion of time adolescents spend at school (Soutter, 2011). According to WHO, “among all the sectors that play critical roles in adolescent health, education is key” (World Health Organization, 2014). Studies have also shown that modifications in school environments have significant impacts on adolescents’ health and wellbeing (Currie et al., 2009). Adolescent delinquent and antisocial behavior have multiple detrimental effects both individually and socially, such as poor school performance, unstable interpersonal relationships, and social order disturbances (Loeber & Farrington, 2000). Therefore, in order to develop strategies converting adolescent delinquent and antisocial behavior into prosocial and preventative behavior, it is highly significant to investigate factors that lead to adolescent prosocial and preventative behavior. Most existing literature on school climate and mental health studied adolescents in well-developed cities of Western countries. This has led to substantial gaps in scientific knowledge about virtually all aspects of this topic in resource-poor settings (Razzouk et al). Students in resource-poor areas with mental health difficulties and concerns may not be willing to seek help due to mental health stigma. Therefore, modifying school climates may be a more effective way of increasing students’ mental health than direct diagnosing and treating individual cases of mental illness. The effect of modifying school climates may also have wider effect to all students in longer term than direct mental health interventions. Therefore, there is an urgent call for research to evaluate the associations between school climate and mental health in the context of low and middle income regions in Eastern countries. A large proportion of past research in this area studied health in general, with limited research on the relationship between school climate and mental health specifically. Moreover, there is so far no consensus as to the key aspects of school climate that influence students’ mental health. Thus, it is of current research interest to narrow down the broad concepts of school climate and mental health, and to study interactions between the sub-constructs. Here, we narrow the concept of school climate down to individual’s experience, interpersonal relationship, and teacher’s behavior. Aspects of mental health include mental illness symptoms, preventative behavior, and prosocial behavior.