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Teachers' beliefs about mental health needs in inner city elementary schools.

Author information

1
Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Children's Memorial Hospital, Chicago, IL 60614 and the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, USA. hwalter@childrensmemorial.org

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

To survey teachers' beliefs about mental health service needs in inner city elementary schools.

METHOD:

A total of 119 teachers from six elementary schools in a major city in the midwestern United States were surveyed to assess their beliefs about the major mental health problems facing their schools, the major barriers to surmounting those problems, their preferences for mental health topics for in-service education, and their education, experience, knowledge, attitudes, and self-efficacy pertaining to mental health issues.

RESULTS:

Disruptive behavior was endorsed by approximately 50% of teachers as the largest mental health problem facing their schools, and lack of information/training was endorsed as the greatest barrier to surmounting mental health problems. The highest-rated topics for in-service education were disruptive behavior disorders and implementing behavior plans. Although most teachers had taught students with mental health problems, most had had little education in mental health and little consultation with mental health professionals. Correspondingly, teachers' knowledge about mental health issues was limited, and they did not feel confident about their ability to manage mental health problems in their classrooms.

CONCLUSIONS:

Teachers would benefit from education, training, and consultation from mental health professionals if they serve as effective gatekeepers to mental health services.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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