Can an online teacher training programme improve identification of mental health difficulties in primary school children?

Introduction to this Emerging Minds funded project by Emma Soneson, PhD student & Gates Scholar at the University of Cambridge.

Half of all children with mental health difficulties never access care and support. One of the main reasons for this is that key adults (like parents, teachers, and GPs) don’t always know when children are struggling with their mental health.

In our project, we are looking at how to help primary school staff spot mental health difficulties in their pupils. To do this, we are using an online training programme with teachers and teaching assistants (TAs) from 8 schools. In this training, teachers and TAs will learn how to spot the signs of mental health difficulties, talk with children and parents about mental health, and help link children to care and support.

We will test whether this programme helps teachers and TAs to be better at spotting mental health difficulties. We will also test whether it’s practical and acceptable for schools. If the programme works and schools like it, we will work with the designers to make it even better. We can then do a bigger study to see if it should be used in all primary schools in the UK.

We hope that this training can help teachers and TAs be more confident about pupil mental health. The earlier we can see that a child is struggling, the earlier we can support them to live happy and healthy lives.