Teaching & Learning

USU Professor on 'Instead' Podcast to Talk About Mental Health in Northern Utah Schools

By Tabitha Smiel |

For Tyler Renshaw, his research efforts are about more than the pursuit of findings or the thrill of a discovery and excitement of uncovering a new fact.

“I want more kids and more families to have better lives,” Renshaw said on a recent episode of the “Instead podcast, produced by Utah State University's Office of Research.

An associate professor in the Psychology Department at USU, Renshaw administers surveys to measure mental health risk for students and teachers at various schools in northern Utah.

“We can figure out which teachers might need more consultation support to help improve the engagement of their students or reduce the amount of off-task behavior that's happening in the class, or to support kids who are struggling emotionally,” Renshaw said.

The collected survey data can be used to help students with their individual mental health needs in addition to assisting teachers with their classes.

“I wish that teachers were provided with the skills they needed in their pre-service training to help support students' emotional and behavioral success, beyond, just like, 'How do I teach math?'” Renshaw said. “So many of them have a disappointing, frustrating experience as a teacher, and it leads to burnout.”

Renshaw uses his survey methods to identify specific students undergoing mental health struggles, such as internalizing emotions in the form of depression and anxiety or externalizing through disruptive behaviors.

He and his team of graduate students can then give one-on-one instruction to those students identified as having a high need for intervention. This instruction often entails teaching skill sets such as mindfulness or problem-solving.

To Renshaw, the ultimate goal for his team is to empower the students to "know how to do things differently and to have better habits in their lives.”

The full 30-minute episode is available on the “Instead website, and on Apple, Google, Spotify and other podcast players.

“Instead” is produced by the USU Office of Research and hosted by Wyatt Archer. Each episode features conversations with Utah State University researchers who are working to address Utah's — and the world's — challenges.


Tabitha Smiel
Communications Assistant
Office of Research


Wyatt Archer
Outreach Content Creator
Office of Research


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