Special Issue of Urban Review: Call for Proposals
Mental Health and Wellness in Urban Schools and Communities

The myriad issues associated with living and learning in urban contexts and their subsequent manifestation in schools necessitates that schools support students by prioritizing their mental health and wellness. Some educators and policymakers have latched onto this idea and, in response, have focused more efforts on getting students to be more resilient or demonstrate more grit. While this may appear to be a credible approach on the surface, in reality, putting the onus on individuals to address institutional oppression is nothing more than a repeat of common hegemonic practices that have served as valuable tools in the continued denial of resources and maintaining the existing racial order. There are, indeed, numerous documented examples of oppressed students and families blamed for negative school outcomes and told to simply “try harder” and put forth “more effort.” When the crux of educational issues are systemic in nature and, thus, largely out of the hands of any individual’s control, blaming the victim for their own circumstances only exacerbates the trauma associated with the experience of not meeting expectations.

The purpose of this special issue is not to promote the notion that academic achievement is unimportant or that agency and personal accountability are irrelevant to academic achievement. Rather, the goal is to highlight the significant impact of traumatic experiences in urban settings, and provide an argument for schools to prioritize mental health and wellness in response. In addition to scholarly submissions that advocate for long-term changes, we are also particularly interested in manuscripts that articulate immediate practices that emphasize individuals’ personhood, allowing them the freedom to pursue academic achievement on more meaningful terms.

Educators, working in concert with families and communities, are in a unique position to lend their considerable expertise—insights, training and skills—in creating more culturally responsive healing environments where students feel supported to push for changes that allow them to thrive; however, they must be armed with scholarly materials that interrogate structural inequalities and ascribe equal importance to individual identities—this special issue proposes to do just that. More specifically, this special issue is designed to shed light on urban education experiences and outcomes from a mental health and wellness perspective, with particular attention given to viable solutions to the structural impediments that can impede success at all points along the educational pipeline. As a result, we hope to aid educators and policymakers in moving away from narrow, deficit-oriented, “one-size-fits-all” approaches, towards more radical administrative, counseling, curriculum, policy, and pedagogical shifts that demonstrate an understanding of how negative structural forces predictably produce negative mental health, wellness, and subsequently, academic outcomes, and what can be done in response.

All research (qualitative and quantitative) and conceptual/theoretical manuscript topics should focus on supporting students' and/or families' mental health and wellness in urban environments. Broad topics may include, but are not limited to the following:

~ Individual counseling outcome research
~ Group counseling outcome research
~ Restorative justice analysis
~ Promising school counselor - teacher partnerships
~ School-family-community partnerships
~ Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) policy and practice critique
~ Effective professional development activities
~ New or re-envisioned critiques of mental health and wellness policy and practice in urban schools and communities

Proposal Guidelines

~ Submit no more than 1000 word (submissions over 1000 words will not be reviewed)
~ Include citations, but DO NOT include a reference page
~ Include co-author contact information (email, title & employment) in proposal (not included in 1000-word limit)
~ Authors must discuss submission's contribution to urban education and/or mental health and wellness scholarship


July 31, 2016
~ Proposals due

November 1, 2016
~ Final proposals selected

February 1, 2016
~ First draft of manuscript due

April 1, 2017
~ First draft feedback due

May 1, 2017
~ Second draft of manuscript due

June 1, 2017
~ Final editorial decisions

October 2017
~ Author review of page proofs

Fall 2017/Spring 2018
~ Publication of special issue

Please help us spread the word about this scholarly opportunity. If you have any questions, feel free to contact either one of the the co-editors: Malik S. Henfield (mshenfield@usfca.edu) or Ahmad R. Washington (ahmad.washington@louisville.edu).

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