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Psychology in the Schools

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Although newcomer youth demonstrate high levels of resiliency, many experience challenges in emotional, linguistic, academic, and social functioning. Over the past decade, some promising school-based psychosocial interventions for newcomer youth have been developed. These interventions are necessary, but not sufficient to promote well-being. Without attention to the larger context, focusing solely on the skills and adjustment of newcomer youth could potentially stigmatize students further. There is a need to engage non-newcomer peers for two reasons. First, peer relationships and inclusion are important predictors of well-being. Second, from an equity lens, there is a need to create environments that promote youth well-being; at the very least, these environments must engage non-newcomer youth in recognizing and combatting discrimination. This study outlines the need for peer-focused programming to support newcomers and describes existing research on interventions developed to promote peer relationships (e.g., mentoring) or reduce discrimination (e.g., teacher-led discrimination reduction approaches). We identify other intervention models that could inform how to add an equity lens to school mental health intervention, including how a gender-sexuality alliance model could be adapted, and how equity considerations could be integrated into bystander approaches. We conclude with specific implications and recommendations for embedding equity into school mental health.

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Crooks, C. V., Kubishyn, N., Noyes, A., & Kayssi, G. (2021). Engaging peers to promote wellbeing and inclusion of newcomer students: A call for equity-informed peer interventions. Psychology in the Schools.

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