Investigating Primary School Teachers’ Perspectives on Mental Health in their Classrooms
Citation:Tom O’Brien, 'Investigating Primary School Teachers’ Perspectives on Mental Health in their Classrooms'
Tom O'Brien PME .pdf (Thesis) 561.0Kb
According to the RCSI, 1 in 3 children in Ireland will experience some form of mental health issue by the age of 13 (Cannon et al., 2013). Capp (2015) also states that the prevalence of mental health disorders in children has significantly increased over the last twenty years. School has been identified as a prominent setting in children’s lives and an ideal location in which to promote positive mental health (Weare & Nind, 2011). However, international studies have found that teachers don’t believe they have the adequate preparation to support the mental health of students in their classroom (Reinke, Stormont, Herman, Puri & Goel, 2011). This is also the case in Ireland according to O’Dea (2010) and McEntee (2014), who claim that Irish teachers have stated they don’t feel confident in promoting positive mental health. Due to a minimal amount of literature written on teachers’ perspectives on mental health in their classrooms in an Irish context, this study aimed to contribute to the field and provide extra insight into teachers’ opinions and beliefs surrounding well-being and mental health in children. The study looked to find out what thoughts’ teachers had on the training they received around mental health disorders in children. Their thoughts on the primary school curriculum, as it relates to mental health, their experience of well-being in their own classrooms and what strategies they employed in order to support positive mental health were also sought. Teachers were also questioned on what barriers they believe exist, that hinder the promotion of well-being amongst children in schools. The research was conducted using a qualitative approach in the form of semi-structured interviews. There were six participants involved in this study, all of whom are qualified primary school teachers with experience of the topics that the study was centered on. The study found that teachers acknowledge their own role and the role of their school in the promotion of positive mental health in children. However, teachers didn’t feel that their schools had a supportive and coordinated ethos or policy on the topic. This study recommends that a compulsory mental health policy is brought into schools or that schools are required to draft up their own policy in relation to the topic. Furthermore, teacher training was identified by participants, as an area that is lacking when it comes to well-being in classrooms. Participants pointed out that there was little to no mention of the topic in their ITE, they also identified that CPD courses lack practical implementations and strategies that can be utilised in classrooms. This study recommends that a mandatory module on mental health in children, that provides student teachers with realistic and implementable strategies that help promote positive mental health be introduced into teaching colleges. Participants identified that the primary school curriculum can be a barrier to the promotion of positive mental health in classrooms. They pointed out that traditional subjects take precedence and time allocation ends up being a factor. Too little time is allocated to SPHE during the school week according to participants. This study recommends an amendment to the primary school curriculum and an increase in time allocated to the fostering of well-being in children through the subject of SPHE.
Author: O’Brien, Tom
Qualification name:Professional Master of Education
Type of material:Thesis
Availability:Full text available
Keywords:Research Subject Categories