School mental health training for teachers leaves room for improvement

Publication Date:

August 20, 2019

This blog was updated on August 21, 2019 to clarify details regarding a referenced training program and its evaluation.

As youth struggle with mental health issues at increasing rates, their teachers are struggling to help them. One recent study found that, while 93 percent of teachers are concerned about student mental health needs, 85 percent expressed the need for further mental health training. Schools must ensure that teachers are prepared to identify and support students by building their capacity to effectively address student mental health.

Mental health is a topic not commonly covered in current teacher trainings. These trainings tend to address classroom management skills and a variety of teacher competencies, with little or no focus on student mental health. However, some schools are incorporating effective teacher training on student mental health within in-service trainings. Mental Health First Aid (MHFA), one of the most commonly used training programs of this kind, has a growing evidence base demonstrating increases in teachers’ knowledge and ability to address student mental health needs. Additionally, teachers report a more positive sense of their personal mental health after participating in an MHFA training.