2020 Emerging Scholars Fellowship

Active Minds
Active Minds

From January to June, the 2020 Active Minds’ Emerging Scholars conducted research on the topic of mental health programming and resources in high schools through a literature review, surveys, focus groups and informant interviews at the Active Mind’s National Conference.

The Emerging Scholars Fellowship focuses on empowering emerging mental health researchers. This year, the scholars were asked to use research methods to help answer the question of how can/does Active Minds support high schools. The Active Minds’ Emerging Scholars Fellowship is generously supported by the Scattergood Foundation. 

Our four Scholars, Brittnay Nguyen, MacKenzie Dallenback, Lydia Rankin, and Joey Sheppard, met twice a month for six months to discuss findings and work collaboratively on the research project. They compiled a 30+ page final report on their findings and developed a presentation entitled “Assessing and Evaluating Active Minds High School Programming” that they successfully gave in June. 

Among the key recommendations from the scholars:

  • Active Minds chapters are needed and making a difference in providing peer-to-peer mental health education in high schools. Specifically, the chapters greatly benefit from support from the national movement.
  • Most often, high schools cite Active Minds’ Stress Less Week, Validate-Appreciate-Refer (V-A-R), and Suicide Prevention Month as highly beneficial for facilitating mental health conversations.
  • Common restrictions for successful mental health programming in high schools are time limitations, lack of student participation, a lack of resources, and needs for dedicated space for mental health programming on campus.
  • High school students are most interested in learning about ways to cope with and manage mental or emotional challenges, how to help and support a friend through mental health challenges, and about different mental health issues (i.e. depression, anxiety, eating disorders, etc.).

Brittnay Nguyen is pursuing her Master’s of Public Health at San Francisco State University. MacKenize Dallenback is double majoring in psychology and social work at the University of Northern Iowa. Lydia Rankin is working towards her Masters in Student Affairs at Post University. Joey Sheppard is majoring in Family Studies and minoring in Global Women’s Studies at Brigham Young University. You can read more about our scholars here.



Congratulations to our 2020 Emerging Scholars on successfully completing your research project and best of luck in your future endeavors! Also, thank you to Active Minds’ nationwide high school community for participating in the research! More information and additional recommendations will be published in a white paper later this fall.