Emerson Coyle


The Mental Health Crisis Facing Youth in US Public Schools: The Need for a Paradigm Shift and Universal Comprehensive Measures


As the mental health crisis continues to grow world-wide, the impact on youth in US public schools is becoming a topic that can no longer be ignored. Concerns regarding youth mental health in the country pre-date the recent Covid-19 pandemic, however the drastic shift in daily life along with prolonged periods of social isolation have caused increases in youth struggling with anxiety, depression, and diminished social skills. If left unchecked the consequences of this crisis will be far reaching and could negatively impact the current and future generations. While preK-12 students spend a great deal of time in the school environment it becomes the responsibility of the school system to put measures in place to address the mental health and well-being of the students. This presentation will begin by examining the scope of the crisis itself. The systematic literature review portion will examine what measures are currently being taken in public schools across the country to address the mental health crisis. The conceptual portion of the presentation will explore and define relevant theories and the responsibility of higher education. The practice application portion will provide the potential solution of implementing a comprehensive universal mental health program in all public schools in the United States. The presentation will conclude with a brief synthesis of all key findings and conclusions.


Emerson G. Coyle attended Gulf Coast State College from 2010-2012 earning an Associate of Arts. They went on to attend Florida State University earning a Bachelor of Social Work in 2014, followed by a Master of Social Work in 2016. Emerson is a current doctoral candidate at the University of Kentucky’s College of Social Work.

Emerson has a background in child welfare and community mental health and is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in the state of Kentucky. They are currently working as a Mental Health Practitioner for Jefferson County Public Schools while continuing to serve the LGBTQIA+ community through individual therapy in private practice. Their research focuses on mental health services within public schools and mental health within the LGBTQIA+ community.

Emerson’s article, Pushing Back Against Extremist Legislation, was published in the June 2023 online pride edition of Social Work Today.