Enhancing Pre-Service Teachers' Mental Health Literacies Through Educational Programming

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Parker, Brooke M.
mental health literacy , teacher training , educational programming , student mental health
Given the decline in the mental health (MH) of children and youth globally, it is imperative that teachers are adequately equipped to support student MH by providing timely and efficient support through early identification, intervention, and referral for treatment. The purpose of this two-phase quantitative study was to explore the mental health literacies (MHL) demonstrated by Ontario pre-service teachers, with a focus on understanding their capacity to address MH concerns among students within the classroom setting. More precisely, the aim was to explore the proficiency of pre-service teachers in recognizing specific disorders, evaluating their levels of knowledge and confidence pertaining to help-seeking, and exploring their attitudes and perceptions towards student MH. The first phase of this study involved a comprehensive review of an existing survey instrument by seven experts from the fields of education and MH. Their feedback and insights were incorporated to enhance the content validity of the adapted survey instrument, the Mental Health Literacy Scale for Educators – Adapted (MHLS-ED-A). Following the refinement, the second phase involved distributing the online survey to pre-service teachers in Ontario, resulting in a total of 114 responses. The psychometric analysis of these responses revealed that three out of the six underlying constructs reached an acceptable internal reliability, forming the basis for subsequent data analysis. The outcomes derived from these constructs demonstrate a strong ability to recognize specific disorders, alongside demonstrating empathetic attitudes towards student with MH challenges. However, pre-service teachers in Ontario demonstrated varying levels of proficiency in help-seeking knowledge, highlighting the necessity for more explicit training and resource allocation related to help-seeking within educational programming. The implications and findings from this study are discussed in relation to research and practices to provide an informative basis on how educational programming can be leveraged to enhance the MHL of pre-service teachers in Ontario.
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