Teachers’ Experiences with and Helping Behaviour Towards Students with Mental Health Problems

  •  Michelle Dey    
  •  Laurent Marti    
  •  Anthony F. Jorm    


The aim of the current study was to examine secondary school teachers’ experiences with and helping behaviour towards students with mental health problems. Data from 176 teachers were analysed. Altogether, 91.5% of participating teachers reported that they already had students with a mental health problem (particularly mood disorders) in their classes. About ¾ of teachers (74.7%) were also willing to help a student with a mental health problem, particularly by listening attentively or by recommending professional help. The self-rated mental health literacy of teachers was significantly and positively associated with help provision and with the assessment that ‘asking students about suicidal thoughts’ is helpful. In contrast, the perception of not having the necessary experience/training to help or that other people are better suited to help were seen as barriers to providing help. Based on the results, it is concluded that increasing teachers’ mental health literacy and the confidence in their ability to help (including asking students about suicidal thoughts) might increase their helping behaviour directed towards students with mental health problems.

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