Mental health education in New York state schools : the teachers' perspective
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In response to the rise in mental health issues among youth, New York State (NYS) now requires all schools' curriculums to include mental health education. The purpose of this study was to understand the perspectives of high school teachers in NYS -- on school-based mental health education, its implementation, its effectiveness, and its impact on student and teacher mental health outcomes. The Theory of Organizational Readiness for Change can be used in an organization, such as a school system, to determine if the necessary factors are present for the successful implementation of new policies as incorporating a mental health educational program into the existing curriculum. Participants (N=20) with a minimum of 3 years of classroom experience were recruited through Facebook and snowball sampling. Using a qualitative descriptive approach, a semi-structured, open-ended interview guide was developed and used to interview participants. Qualitative content analysis was used to analyze interviews and derive common themes. The main themes that emerged included the following: (a) a broken system, (b) mental health issues impact teachers and the classroom environment, (c) student mental health challenges in schools are complex and multifaceted, and (d) effective school mental health education needs a multi-faceted approach. Teachers play a pivotal role in the academic, social, and emotional development of students. This study highlights a need for policy changes that will support teachers in dealing with mental health issues in the classroom.
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