Understanding Secondary Educators’ Knowledge of Mental Health and Their Perceptions of Their Role in Addressing Student Mental Health
MetadataShow full item record
Adolescents have significant unmet mental health needs and schools represent the most common place for youth to receive mental health services. Teachers are primarily responsible for recognizing and working with students with mental health needs. Scholarship has investigated teachers’ knowledge pertaining to signs and symptoms for mental illness and found that teachers report little confidence in their knowledge, and have difficulty accurately identifying students struggling with mental illness. Research has provided some insight into how teachers can promote positive mental health amongst their students but little is known about classroom educators’ perceptions about how they can address student mental health concerns. Thus, this qualitative study utilized thematic analysis to investigate 27 teacher/classroom educators’ perceptions about how they can help students who struggle with mental health problems. Five main themes emerged from the analysis: 1) school collaboration, 2) student support, 3) family involvement/family-school partnership, 4) school reform/systematic change, and 5) teacher professional development training. Additionally, the study also investigated educator’s knowledge of signs and symptoms of depression, anxiety, and eating disorders. Eighty-five percent of teachers were able to correctly identify depression from a vignette while all participants were able to identify an eating disorder from a vignette. This study provides insights about how to improve school-based mental health efforts, with specific attention to classroom-based educators’ role in the provision of services.