Background: Teachers have a significant role to play in identifying children with mental health problems. However, teachers’ perceptions of children’s mental health problems are relatively unexplored.
Method: Primary school teachers (N = 113) completed a questionnaire, composed of vignettes describing children with symptoms of a common emotional disorder and a common behavioural disorder, following which they were asked a number of questions regarding problem recognition and help-seeking.
Results: Teachers were able to recognise the existence of a problem and rate its severity. They were significantly more concerned about a vignette of a child with symptoms of a behavioural disorder than an emotional disorder. The gender of the child was found to independently predict teachers’ accurately recognising when a child had a problem.
Conclusion: Teachers are good at recognising whether a child presents with a problem. However, their problem recognition is affected by both the gender of the child and the type of symptomatology being displayed (emotional versus behavioural).