This project aims to develop evidence-based guidelines and training for teachers on how to best support primary aged children with emerging mental health problems in the classroom. Mental health problems in children are common, with as many as 1 in 7 Australian children aged 4 to 11 years experiencing a diagnosable mental illness, such as anxiety, in any one year. In the wake of COVID-19 and the associated periods of remote learning, teachers will require more information than ever before on how to support the mental health of children.
The proposed training would aim to increase teacher self-efficacy and confidence in using evidence-based strategies that are known to support children with mental health problems to fully engage in learning and minimise the impact of symptoms on functioning. For example, cognitive behavioural therapy techniques for anxiety, such as gradual exposure to stressors using relaxation strategies, have evidence to show their effectiveness.
Three studies will allow this project to achieve its aim: (1) a review of the scientific literature to determine existing strategies which teachers could use to provide classroom-based support to children (2) an expert consensus study involving teachers, mental health professionals and young people with lived experience of a mental health problems, to determine the safest, most feasible, and best-practice strategies for supporting children in the classroom and (3) co-designing and pilot testing a training package with teachers that can be delivered to primary school teachers and other education staff, such as Principals or Well-being officers.
Supervisors: Dr Laura Hart, Dr Jon Quach and Dr David Armstrong.