Teacher mental health awareness and professional practice: an exploration of self-reported teacher understanding and practice regarding childhood trauma
thesisposted on 28.03.2022, 18:21 by Kate Eastman
This study explores the mental health and trauma-informed understanding, practices and professional development of primary school classroom teachers. Participants were 139 teachers who completed a mental health and trauma literacy assessment and also reported teaching experiences, professional development and implementation of practices to support children who may have experienced trauma. Significant correlations were found between teachers' mental health and trauma literacy, professional learning, and professional experience teaching children in their classes. Teacher perceptions of the effects of trauma on a child's life were assessed with an a priori framework of key themes developed from the literature. More than 100 teachers were able to identify poor behaviour s such as externalising behaviours (77 %), difficulties in forming relationships with peers and teachers (66%), and internalising responses (including disassociation) ( 58 %). A similar a priori framework was established to identify trauma-informed practices. The most common practices included establishing a classroom environment that is structured and predictable (48%) and taking a student-centred individualised approach (45%). Fewer than half of teachers reported practices involving curriculum adjustments (46%), building intentional relationships with the child (3 9 %) or engaging in the explicit teaching of social-emotional skills (3 7 %). Half (57%) of all teachers had received formal mental health training (M = 5.6 hours), while fewer than half (45%) had received childhood trauma training (M = 1.66 hours). The implications for the development of classroom teacher trauma and mental health knowledge and practice are discussed.