Canadian educators’ preparedness in addressing mental health needs of secondary students
An anonymous paper based survey was used to collect qualitative and quantitative data on a sample of teachers and special education assistants in an urban secondary school in British Columbia. The aim of this study was to investigate educators’ level of skills and knowledge to deal with student mental health issues. The results of the survey indicate that although the teachers acknowledge the importance of addressing mental health needs of their students, they also request greater access to resources, skill development, and information about mental health. They reported a global lack of training and knowledge to access various supports available within the school and the community. The survey revealed that most of them relied on school counsellors in most aspects of mental health service delivery, such as screening and behavioural assessments, monitoring student progress, and referring students to other services in the community. Most of the participants reported to have minimal training during their pre-service teacher education program and attempted to learn a majority about mental health through experiences of dealing with situations and some professional development. Major barriers to effective student mental health delivery that were identified included lack of time, resources, and knowledge about what is available both within and outside the school. A majority of the participants called for more professional development opportunities about mental health issues in students. They also insisted on more involvement from the administration at the school. Implications of the findings are discussed.