BRANDON D. MITCHELL
University of Louisville
Kent School of Social Work & Family Science
My research is aligned at the intersection of education and social work – with two overarching research pathways.
Research Pathway 1: I examine how society influences the school environment, such as through network influence and media discourse.
Research Pathway 2: I focus on understanding and strengthening the justice-oriented practice of school social workers to re-align preventative and support driven work toward equity promotion in schools.
SOCIAL WORK AND EDUCATION
I am greatly interested in promoting justice in K-12 education through an enhanced role of the school social worker. Given their pre-service education is rooted in themes of social justice they may be well positioned to contribute to systemic change in schools. Specifically, I am interested in their contributing role to ameliorating academic and behavioral inequities for youth of color. To conduct this research, I deploy critical methodologies rooted in anti-racism.
MEDIA INFLUENCE ON SCHOOLS
The media plays a unique role in sustaining and perpetuating problematic social problems through biased and stereotypical portrayals. I use critical methodologies to explore how certain social problems (e.g., learning loss, school discipline, education censorship) are represented in the media to illuminate potential barriers to reform and re-shape inclusive discourse.
This page details some publications of interest, please refer to my CV for a full list of projects and publications.
“DECOLONIZING MENTAL HEALTH”: EXPLORING INSIGHTS FROM CLINICIANS TRAINED IN KNIFFLEY RACIAL TRAUMA THERAPY
Exploring the experiences of clinicians trained in Kniffley Racial Trauma Therapy (KRTT), this study aimed to: (a) Understand clinicians’ perceptions of competence with addressing race-based stress; and (b) Explore clinicians’ perceptions of growth, skill development, and translation to practice, given their particular racial identity. A purposive sample (i.e., 15 clinicians) trained in KRTT participated in 1-hour-long virtual focus groups to discuss their training experience and potential influence on practice. Focus group data were organized into four categories with several themes within each category. Categories 1–3 include: Clinical Confidence with Race-Based Stress, Training Impact, and Posttraining Considerations. Within each category, some themes were consistent among both BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and other people of color) clinicians and White clinicians. Finally, the fourth category, Suggestions for Training Improvement, offers clinicians’ recommendations for improving the training, based on data from all clinicians. Findings shed light on the utility of KRTT and the need for further training for White clinicians focused on cultural humility, as well as self-care support for BIPOC clinicians.
SCHOOL‑BASED MENTAL HEALTH PRACTITIONERS: A RESOURCE GUIDE
FOR EDUCATIONAL LEADERS
School-based mental health practitioners can offer enhanced support to schools and students; yet their training, roles, and
expertise vary. The roles of these professionals are often conflated, misunderstood, or marginalized in their utility throughout the school system. The purpose of this manuscript is to enhance the capacity of educational leaders to make informed hiring, contracting, and role assignment decisions that best fit school and student needs regarding school mental health services. We illuminate
similarities and differences of these professionals and juxtapose the utility of traditional mental health versus school-based mental health. We then discuss the similarities and differences of qualified school mental health professionals described within the context of traditional and school-based mental health preparation and service delivery. We conclude by contributing
three resources for educational leaders to support the process of engaging school-based mental health practitioners. First, we offer a planning guide to understand state variations in certification requirements across professionals. Second, we provide a hiring guide primer that summarizes education requirements and delineates role orientations for school mental
health practitioners. Third, we provide an interview guide to help clarify a candidate’s experience and skills useful to contemporary school needs.
The impact of the pandemic has been postulated to affect student learning. The learning loss narrative has been used to identify deficits in student learning, however the research on learning loss is fundamentally deficit-based. In this paper, we explore the ramifications of yet another pervasive, deficit-based narrative that is impacting youth in schools. We conclude with reform implications and recommendations to re-align discourse towards support, strength/asset based focus, and efforts to recognize and value youth and family voices.
“WE ARE SAVING THEIR BODIES AND DESTROYING THEIR SOULS.”: FAMILY CAREGIVERS’ EXPERIENCES OF FORMAL CARE SETTING VISITATION RESTRICTIONS DURING THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC
This study aims to explore the experiences of family caregivers during the COVID-19 pandemic-imposed visitation restrictions at formal care settings (FCS) such as assisted living centers and traditional nursing homes. Participants (N = 512) were recruited from an international caregiving social media site that was developed at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Descriptive data was collected on the family caregivers, the care recipient and facility. Respondents also provided a single feeling word describing their experience and an open-ended question allowed for further exploration. Caregivers were predominantly daughters (n = 375). The most common reported feeling words were sadness (n = 200), trauma (n = 108), anger (n = 65), frustration (n = 56), helplessness (n = 50), and anxiety (n = 36). Thematic analysis revealed four overarching themes: 1) isolation 2) rapid decline 3) inhumane care and 4) lack of oversight. This study highlights the importance of addressing the mental, emotional and physical needs of both care recipient and family caregiver during this challenging time.
Conscientization is the process of learning to perceive sociocultural, economic, and political oppression to such extent one is moved to act against it. This transformative and liberatory pedagogy has momentous implications for social work education; as its outcome is an increased critical consciousness for both students and faculty. However, the process of conscientization and its foundational mechanisms are understudied. We therefore conducted a descriptive phenomenological study on professors whose teaching or research combat systems of oppression. We provide a composite structural definition of conscientization, and a composite textural–structural description of its catalysts. We discuss how our study builds on the current liberatory education empirical base, as well as the implications of our findings on education and practice.
PATIENT-IDENTIFIED MARKERS OF QUALITY CARE: IMPROVING HIV SERVICE DELIVERY FOR OLDER AFRICAN AMERICANS
This convergent mixed method design entails data from surveys and qualitative interviews. Thirty-five interviews were conducted, with results underscoring the wealth of knowledge patients maintain with regard to both their facilitators to HIV care and the barriers to care that persist. Facilitators of care include diet, health, relationships, community support, and compassionate HIV care. Barriers to care include health comorbidities, economic, food, and housing insecurity, lack of transportation, and structural racism. Focusing, emphasizing, and understanding patient experiences may be key to prolonged reductions in HIV inequities and improvements in service delivery.
CERTIFICATION AND PROFESSIONAL PREPARATION OF SCHOOL SOCIAL WORKERS, SCHOOL PSYCHOLOGISTS, AND SCHOOL COUNSELORS
State certification standards are explored for the domains of school mental health professionals (i.e., psychologists, counelsors, and social workers). Results show consistency for psychologists and counselors with most states requiring Master's level educational components. Meanwhile, social work has inconsistent and varied standards, with a number of states with no defined guidelines. More research is needed to understand the relationship between varied certification standards of social workers and their role and viability in schools.
The COVID-19 pandemic has ushered in profound change to K-12 schooling and may exacerbate pre-existing inequities. In this paper, the impact of the pandemic is reviewed, before discussing a re-aligned mission to support students and families more holistically.