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October 2015 | Volume 73 | Number 2
Emotionally Healthy Kids
Jessica Minahan and Diana Baker
Teachers often feel overwhelmed by a student's mental health challenges. The key to helping is to focus on what teachers can do—build student skills.
There's a disconnect between the needs of students with mental health issues and teachers' skills. Twenty-one percent of U.S. teenagers have struggled with a debilitating mental health problem at some point during their school years (Merikangas et al., 2010), yet programs for elementary and special education teachers typically provide one course—if that—in mental health and behavior management. Thus, most teachers lack the skills and knowledge to intervene effectively with students facing mental health challenges.
Teachers realize they need such skills. They want to create positive outcomes for students who are struggling. And some fear that a disruptive student might jeopardize the academic performance of their entire class—a fear that has become more prominent in light of contemporary initiatives that yoke teacher pay and school funding to student performance.
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