Aims: We sought to evaluate secondary school teachers’ knowledge about psychosis and their level of interest in this topic given the key role they may be able to play in the early detection of psychosis.
Methods: A questionnaire survey of 268 secondary school teachers from eight secondary schools within the Azienda Sanitaria Locale Rome/E and Rome/A catchment areas (two of the five city health districts) in Rome. Teachers were asked to complete the Italian version Esperienza e Conoscenza delle Difficoltò Sociali ed Emotive dei Giovani of the Knowledge and Experience of Social Emotional Difficulties among Young people self-report questionnaire that investigates the diagnosis, age of onset, aetiology, prognosis and treatment of psychosis. They were also asked about their experience with pupils with possible psychosis.
Results: Most of teachers were able to recognize psychotic symptoms from a case vignette. Approximately 25% of the teachers had experienced a pupil with possible symptoms of psychosis. However, teachers displayed little awareness of psychiatric community services available for young people.
Conclusions: Our study shows that teachers may play an important role in early detection and psychosis prevention strategies. The teachers also displayed a keen interest in gaining a deeper knowledge of early psychotic signs and in cooperating closely with a mental health specialist to obtain guidance and support when faced with serious mentally ill pupils.