Primary School Teachers’ Views on Their Role in Child Mental Health Prevention

Prof Doc Thesis

Edwards, A. 2020. Primary School Teachers’ Views on Their Role in Child Mental Health Prevention. Prof Doc Thesis University of East London School of Psychology
AuthorsEdwards, A.
TypeProf Doc Thesis

Background: With evidence of rising mental health needs in children and young people and cuts in specialist provision, the role of schools in the prevention of child mental health issues has become increasingly pertinent. Primary school teachers work with an age group for whom early intervention is of particular relevance and are being asked to perform a range of educational and preventative tasks relevant to the mental health of their pupils.
Objectives: This study aimed to explore primary school teachers' perspectives on their role in the prevention of child mental health issues and gain a better understanding of opportunities and barriers they may encounter in this role.
Design: This was an exploratory study using thematic analysis. A critical realist position was taken which allowed both the content of the data and the context of the teacher’s views and experiences to be considered.
Method: Semi-structured interviews were carried out with 11 teachers working across 10 primary schools. Data was analysed using thematic analysis, following the stages of analysis outlined by Braun and Clarke (2013).
Results: Two overarching themes were identified: i) Understandings of child mental health and ii) School’s place in society; teacher roles and responsibilities.
Conclusions: The findings demonstrate the complex position primary school teachers hold, in which they face dilemmas around the boundaries of their role and contend with the restrictions and demands of the current UK education system. The findings indicate a lack of confidence in how best to identify and respond to children presenting with mental health issues and a desire for further training on the subject of mental health. The findings highlighted a need for greater clarity in the parameters of a primary school teacher's role and further consideration of the feasibility of incorporating mental health education and prevention into an already high workload.

KeywordsSchool mental health; child mental health prevention; teachers roles mental health; mental health in education
PublisherUniversity of East London
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Publication dates
Online01 Oct 2020
Publication process dates
SubmittedJun 2020
Deposited01 Oct 2020
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License: CC BY-NC-ND 4.0
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