By: Dr. Wendy Carr and Dr. Blye Frank
March 13, 2019
Educators spend a significant amount of time with young people, some of whom may show early signs of a mental illness, particularly during the adolescent years when most mental disorders can be diagnosed. They are often the first to observe student behaviours that may portend mental health problems and be the first to secure support for students in need. And yet we know that, while approximately 20 percent of children and youth in Canada will develop a mental illness in their lifetime, many of those who require care do not obtain rapid access to the help they require.
One of the contributing components to this dilemma is that teachers report that they don’t know how to respond to the student mental health challenges they see in schools. When the Canadian Teachers’ Federation surveyed teachers in 2012, 70 percent of respondents indicated that they had not received professional preparation in mental health education and felt unable to sufficiently understand or appropriately respond to students’ mental health needs. How can faculties of education address this gap in teacher preparation, both at the pre-service and in-service level? (Pre-service refers to a teacher candidate who has not yet finished their education training, while in-service refers to a certified, practising teacher.)
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