Supporting children’s mental health in schools: teacher views
Graham, A, Phelps, R, Maddison, C & Fitzgerald, R 2011, 'Supporting children’s mental health in schools: teacher views', Teachers and Teaching: Theory and Practice, vol. 17, no. 4, pp. 479-496.
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Schools have increasingly been targeted as appropriate sites for mental health promotion and teachers are considered well placed to identify issues concerning students’ social and emotional well-being. Whilst teachers are now expected to be responsive to a wide range of student needs and circumstances, they receive little in their pre-service and subsequent teacher education to adequately prepare them for such realities. This paper reports the findings of a study that investigated teacher perspectives on student mental health and mental health education, including their sense of self-efficacy in relation to promoting and supporting children’s mental well-being in schools. These findings highlight a complex interplay between teachers’ constructions of ‘mental health’, the importance they place on mental health promotion in schools, issues of teacher confidence, role identity conflict and school culture, as well as teachers’ own sense of mental well-being. The discussion signals a need to pay close attention to the assumptions, values, beliefs and attitudes of teachers in relation to children’s mental health since these are integral to their confidence and skill in supporting children’s social and emotional well-being.