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Program Description:
Tune into this program to review data from parents on the mental health needs of students during COVID-19, a period where most students were receiving instruction virtually. The information collected during spring 2021 offers unique insight from parents on how schools were supporting their children’s social-emotional and mental health needs. Using their expertise and backgrounds, Coffey, Deni, and Hussey will provide explanation of different perspectives ranging from parent to school psychologist.


Diane Coffey is the parent of two children with mental health diagnoses. She is currently a Parent Outreach Coordinator for Parent to Parent Family Support Network- High County and previously worked for AppHealthCare as a Parent Outreach Coordinator for the Innovative Approaches Grant. In these roles she has worked closely with many families listening to their struggles and celebrating their successes. Recently, she has joined many local and North Carolina state level committees/workgroups supporting providers and families in work around Educational Services for Exceptional children, and Mental Health services.

James “Jim” Deni, Ed.D., MA, has been a school psychology trainer for almost 50 years. He is part of the NC School Mental Health Initiation (SMHI) and Co-Coordinator of SMHI in Region 7. He is an active researcher and presenter at State and National Conferences. He is a Past-President of the North Carolina School Psychology Association (NCSPA) and Recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award in School Psychology now named the Dr. Jim Deni Lifetime Achievement Award in School Psychology. He works closely with the NC Department of Public Instruction and has served on committees.

Bill Hussey has 38 years of service to those with mental health needs. He is fiercely dedicated to seamless mental health services in North Carolina. To realize this, he has brought together hundreds of stake-holders representing grass roots and grass tops and deftly asked the tough questions. In doing so, Bill has pushed the status quo by reframing conversations from the needs of an entrenched system toward the best interests of our most vulnerable citizens in North Carolina. Over the course of his career, Bill has served on the front lines with youth experiencing significant mental health issues and as the director of the Exceptional Children Division at the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction (NCDPI). Bill is currently the Co-chair of the NC School-based Mental Health Initiative.

Learning Objectives:

At the conclusion of this program, participants will be able to:

  1. Identify at least 3 unique perspectives of a parent’s sentiment of a school’s level of support during virtual learning in context of the COVID-19 pandemic.
  2. Describe at least 2 methods used by schools during virtual learning to support children’s mental health needs.


Jalongo M. R. (2021). The effects of COVID-19 on early childhood education and care: Research and resources for children, families, teachers, and teacher educators. Early Childhood Education Journal. Advance online publication.

Patrick, S. W., Henkhaus, L. E., Zickafoose, J. S., Lovell, K., Halvorson, A., Loch, S., Letterie, M., & Davis, M. M. (2020). Well-being of parents and children during the COVID-19 pandemic: A national survey. Pediatrics146(4), e2020016824.

Wissemann, K., Mathes, B., Meyer, A., & Schmidt, N. B. (2021). COVID-related fear maintains controlling parenting behaviors during the pandemic. Cognitive Behaviour Therapy50(4), 305–319.

UNC Chapel Hill – Family Focus and Disability Lecture Series Programs 

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