Graduation Year


Document Type

Ed. Specalist



Degree Name

Education Specialist (Ed.S.)

Degree Granting Department

Psychological and Social Foundations

Major Professor

Shannon Suldo, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Sarah Kiefer, Ph.D.

Committee Member

John Ferron, Ph.D.


Positive Mental Health, social support, elementary school, student voice


In line with the positive psychology movement and the dual factor model of mental health, professionals are increasingly compelled to consider not only mechanisms through which mental distress can be alleviated, but also pathways through which students’ wellness can be fostered. While research in this area has primarily focused on positive indicators of adults’ and adolescents’ mental health, there is a need to address those factors that contribute to the wellness of elementary-aged youth. Participants in the current study included 179 fourth and fifth grade students from an elementary school located in a southeastern state. For this secondary analysis, a mixed methods approach with an explanatory design was adopted to investigate both the quantitative relationship between school social support variables (i.e., Teacher-Student Relations, Teacher Support, Classmate Support) and students’ subjective well-being (SWB; i.e., happiness), as well as qualitative responses of students and teachers regarding displays of support and care in the classroom. Results provide support for the existence of a relationship between Classmate and Teacher Support and elementary students’ subjective well-being, with student perceptions of Instrumental and Emotional Classmate Support and Teacher Emotional Support as unique contributors to student subjective well-being. Qualitative results supplement quantitative findings by highlighting the salience of forms of Instrumental and Emotional Support in discussions of both Teacher and Classmate Support and care. These findings add to the current knowledge base on how building supportive relationships may be incorporated in prevention efforts aimed at fostering a positive school climate and enhancing students’ complete mental health.