Teachers' concerns about pupils' mental health in a cross‐sectional survey of a population sample of British schoolchildren
Mathews, F; Newlove-Delgado, T; Finning, K; et al.Boyle, C; Hayes, R; Johnston, P; Ford, T
Date: 21 April 2020
Child and Adolescent Mental Health
Wiley / Association for Child and Adolescent Mental Health (ACAMH)
Background Schools are becoming central to the identification and referral of children and young people with poor mental health. Understanding how well a teacher concern predicts mental disorder in a child or young person is important for mental health teams who need to respond to referrals. Method This secondary analysis of the ...
Background Schools are becoming central to the identification and referral of children and young people with poor mental health. Understanding how well a teacher concern predicts mental disorder in a child or young person is important for mental health teams who need to respond to referrals. Method This secondary analysis of the 2004 British Child and Adolescent Mental Health Survey used the first item of the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ) Impact subscale to indicate concern about a child or young person’s mental health. Mental disorder according to DSM IVR criteria was assessed using the multi‐informant Development and Well‐Being Assessment. We compared the proportion with and without mental disorder according to the presence or absence of teacher concern. Results Teacher concern was moderately predictive (49% with teacher concern had a disorder) and sensitive (teacher concern present among 56% with disorder), while lack of teacher concern was highly predictive (only 5% had disorder) and specific (94% no disorder). Teacher concern was associated with significantly poorer mental health (mean teacher SDQ total difficulty score 19.6, SD 5.6 with disorder, mean 15.0; SD 5.1 if no disorder) compared to children without teacher concern (mean 9.6, SD 5.5 with disorder, and 4.9; SD 4.3 if no disorder; F (3, 5,931) = 1527.228, p = .001). If both teacher and parents were concerned, the child or young person was much more likely to have a disorder. Conclusion A lack of teacher concern can reassure mental health practitioners in the vast majority of cases. While teacher concern does identify those with poorer mental health, it is only moderately predictive of a disorder. When concerned about a child or young person, discussions with parents or others who know them may help teachers identify those who most need support.
Institute of Health Research
College of Medicine and Health
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