NI teachers’ views of their roles, knowledge and training in supporting student mental health
: A mixed-methods study

  • Lily Chuah

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctorate in Educational, Child and Adolescent Psychology


Rates of anxiety and depression in children and young people in NI are approximately 25% higher than the rest of the UK and Ireland (HSCB, 2020). Educators have been implicated in the joined-up care model that supports child mental health, and teaching contracts in NI state that promoting the wellbeing of pupils is a teacher’s core duty. This study sought the views of mainstream primary school teachers about their roles, knowledge and training in supporting students’ mental health, and their views on designated mental health leads and teams (as introduced by the Green Paper in England). A scoping review indicated that there was no NI-based literature in this area. A mixed-methods study was carried out before COVID-19 school closures. There were 261 quantitative participants from an online survey, of which 159 participants left qualitative responses via textboxes. Six individual interviews were also carried out. A comparison of means suggests that there are statistically significant differences between teachers’ roles, knowledge, and training in supporting student mental health. Findings suggest that [1] Teachers have an important role to play in supporting children and families with growing mental health needs and complex systemic needs [2] Teachers gained mental health knowledge from personal initiative and experience in the absence of training [3] Teachers felt they required: more training at preparatory and professional level; mental health leads and teams; mental health provision for teachers; supervision for mental health cases; and more top-down guidance from DoE, EA and ETI. Implications for practice and research are discussed.

Thesis embargoed until 31 December 2024.
Date of AwardDec 2021
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Queen's University Belfast
SponsorsNorthern Ireland Department for the Economy
SupervisorEnda Cunningham (Supervisor), Lisa Graham-Wisener (Supervisor) & Agnieszka Graham (Supervisor)


  • Teachers
  • teacher training
  • teachers' roles
  • teachers' knowledge
  • teachers' training
  • PGCE
  • mental health
  • student mental health
  • children's mental health
  • supervision
  • supervision for teachers
  • teachers' roles in supporting student mental health
  • children and young people’s Emotional Health and Wellbeing in Education Framework

Cite this