Teachers’ Recognition of Children’s Mental Health Problems

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Abstract

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 (= 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).

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