An Investigation of Teachers’ Perceived Roles and Barriers for Supporting Primary Students with Anxiety Disorders
- Common Ground Research Networks
- Publication Type:
- Journal Article
- The International Journal of Health, Wellness, and Society, 2018, 9 (2), pp. 1 - 17 (17)
- Issue Date:
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Anxiety disorders currently affect 6.9 percent of the paediatric population in Australia. While the school setting is a unique context in which early intervention and treatment of children with anxiety disorders can occur, existing research has mainly focused on simply determining the actual capabilities of teachers in identifying and referring students with anxiety disorders. In past research, teachers have been consulted about this topic only in a very limited manner, and qualitative reasons for disparity in teacher capability or perceived barriers have not been researched in- depth. Therefore, this study examined the perceptions and subjective experiences of teachers to answer the research questions: a) what are the perceptions and subjective experiences of primary school teachers in relation to the roles they play in supporting school–based approaches for children with anxiety disorders? and b) what barriers, if any, do primary school teachers perceive to exist that would inhibit their ability or prevent them from being able to support school–based approaches for children with anxiety disorders? Aligned with phenomenological methods of data collection and analysis, six teacher participants from the Sydney Metropolitan region were interviewed. In addition, three school psychologists were also interviewed to help provide additional insights into anxiety disorders in children. The main themes to emerge from the data revealing the roles teachers believe they play in supporting school-based approaches for children with anxiety disorders included: a) identification and behaviour tracking, b) communication with parents, c) referral, and d) implementing strategies and accommodations for children with anxiety disorders. The findings also provided rich insights into the barriers perceived by teachers as preventing or inhibiting them from being able to support school-based approaches for children with anxiety disorders, including: a) parents, b) lack of training, and c) lack of resources. Recommendations for improving their school-based support roles include increasing the amount of preparatory teacher training at the tertiary-level; increasing the number of school counsellors available, including within the state or public system; and provision of ongoing education of parents to help reduce stigma.
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