CONCEPTS INFLUENCING ATTITUDES AND BELIEFS TOWARD MENTAL HEALTH ISSUES IN A TEACHER EDUCATION PROGRAM
There is an expectation for in-service teachers, current teachers in the field, in primary and secondary schools to be skilled in teaching strategies and behavior management. There is a growing need for teachers also to be skilled in recognizing mental health concerns in their students. Schools are becoming acutely aware that in-service teachers are not adequately prepared in this area, and therein lies a dual responsibility to also prepare college students enrolled in teacher education programs, who will be referred to as pre-service teachers, with skills that will equip them to be supportive of students with mental health needs. This study sought to find out if there were common concepts or factors that would describe how willing a pre-service teacher would be to seek or recommend mental health services for a peer. There were 151 students enrolled in teacher education programs from one Midwestern university in the United States who volunteered to participate in this study. The research design was organized in multiple stages. The data collected were processed through an exploratory factor analysis and once the factors were found, a hierarchical multiple regression analysis was further completed to explore the relationship between such factors and the decision whether to seek or recommend mental health services. The results indicated that comfort, resistance, and environment were significant factors. The comfort factor has dominant influence over the participants’ decision whether to seek or recommend mental health services. The task ahead for primary and secondary schools, and higher education institutions, is to create programs where comfort with students with mental health needs is increased, to increase awareness of the mental health resources available in the community, as well as to decrease the resistance factors.
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