Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Educational Leadership P-12

Committee Member

Hans Klar

Committee Member

Daniella Hall Sutherland

Committee Member

Natasha Croom

Committee Member

Faiza Jamil


Teacher mental health is situated between multiple factors in the education system. At one end, teacher mental health is influenced by the school environment and the practices of their school leaders. Meaning, the quality of a school’s environment and how a school leader develops that environment as either positive or negative can affect teacher experiences of well-being or distress. On the other end, teacher mental health can influence instruction, learning environments, and their intentions to move. Given that the mental health of teachers can be advantageously or adversely influenced by their surrounding school environment and leader, it is necessary to examine these influences because of the consequential implications teacher mental health has on school outcome measures. Despite the significance, little to no research explores these variables simultaneously, making it difficult to comprehensively inform school leaders’ practice in developing school environments that promote teacher mental health.The purpose of this three article dissertation was to study the relationship between teacher mental health, the school environment, and school leader practices. First, in Chapter 2, I sought to survey previous scholarship on the aforementioned topics and develop a conceptual framework for exploring this relationship. Second, in Chapter 3, I sought to determine the nature of the relationship, in direction and strength, between conditions of the school environment and teacher mental health as indicated by well-being and distress. Lastly, in Chapter 4, I sought to understand how school leader practices are related to teachers’ perceptions of the school environment and how those practices related to the school environment explain reported levels of teacher mental health. Using an ecological systems theory approach and mixed methods research design, I integrated quantitative and qualitative data to understand how the school environment directly relates to elements of teacher mental health as well as how school leader practices contribute to teachers’ perceptions of the school environment and explain reported levels of teacher mental health. The findings of this dissertation uncover specific dimensions within the school environment that most influence teacher mental health. Furthermore, the findings provide detailed leadership practices associated with building open, healthy, and positive school environments that benefit teachers with regard to their mental health. The findings offer educational leaders, at the school and district level, policymakers, and educational researchers a greater understanding of how the school environment can serve as a tool for teacher mental health promotion, teacher retention, school improvement, and increased student academic achievement.



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