Brief Online Training Can Help Teachers Respond to Pupils’ Mental Health

Source: Kognito
Copyright: Kognito
License: Licensed by the authors

Brief interactive online mental health training can help teachers better respond to their pupils’ mental health difficulties, according to a new study.

Researchers led by Dr Emma Soneson at the University of Oxford’s Department of Psychiatry questioned dozens of primary school teachers and teaching assistants to explore the potential value of a 1-hour training program they trialed.

It comes at a time of increasing emphasis on schools’ role in supporting pupils’ mental health, as growing numbers of children and young people report issues with their well-being.

The teaching staff from 6 different primary schools in England were asked to trial Kognito’s At-Risk for Elementary School Educators, which involves taking participants through two different hypothetical scenarios about pupil mental health and aims to improve staff’s knowledge and skills in supporting pupils and parents.

The findings have been published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research.

Dr Soneson said “While schools in the UK are expected to play a lead role in protecting and promoting pupils’ mental health, many staff do not feel confident in identifying and responding to pupil mental health difficulties and report wanting additional training in this area.

“After undertaking the training as part of this study, school staff reported greater confidence and preparedness and said they found it useful and practical.”

Unexpectedly, after the training, school staff identified fewer pupils as having mental health difficulties. However, there was also an increase in the accuracy of their assessments of their pupils’ needs.

For pupils who were identified as having mental health needs, the training seemed to help in terms of getting them mental health support at school. There was also better documentation and communication of concerns in schools following the training.

Dr Soneson added “Training like this, which is affordable and flexible, has the potential to help address the high prevalence of mental health difficulties among primary school-age children by helping facilitate access to care and support.

A total of 108 members of school staff from 6 schools—4 in Cambridgeshire, 1 in Merseyside, and 1 in Greater London—took part in the study.

Original article:

Soneson E, Howarth E, Weir A, Jones PB, Fazel M. Empowering School Staff to Support Pupil Mental Health Through a Brief, Interactive Web-Based Training Program: Mixed Methods Study. J Med Internet Res. 2024.