Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home

Secondary school teachers’ ability to recognise and refer students with differing levels of anxiety

  • Nadine Missenden (a1) and Marilyn Campbell (a1)

Abstract

Adolescents experiencing excessive anxiety are often under-identified in the school context, and consequently under-referred for in-school counselling or other mental health support. This is despite anxiety being the most prevalent mental health condition currently experienced by adolescents. The purpose of this study was to explore secondary teachers’ ability to recognise the need to refer adolescents with excessive anxiety symptoms. One hundred and fourteen secondary school teachers completed a questionnaire with five vignettes describing students experiencing various degrees of anxiety. Statistical analysis of the data involved use of the one-sample Wilcoxon test and Spearman’s rank non-parametric correlation coefficients. Results indicated that teachers recognised the need to refer adolescents with very severe anxiety symptoms. However, they were less likely to correctly identify and refer students with severe, moderate or mild anxiety symptoms. There was no statistically significant difference between male and female teachers’ decision to refer students for school counselling. These findings are an important step forward in understanding how teachers decide whether or not to refer anxious children for support, and in identifying areas for further training and professional development. Implications are discussed for future professional development for secondary school teachers.

Copyright

Corresponding author

Author for correspondence: Marilyn Campbell, Email: ma.campbell@qut.edu.au

References

Hide All
Allison, V.L., Nativio, D.G., Mitchell, A.M., Ren, D., & Yuhasz, J. (2014). Identifying symptoms of depression and anxiety in students in the school setting. The Journal of School Nursing, 30, 165172.
American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.). Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Publishing.
Auger, R.W. (2004). The accuracy of teacher reports in the identification of middle school students with depressive symptomatology. Psychology in the Schools, 41, 379389.
Bell, H.D., & McKenzie, V. (2013). Perceptions and realities: The role of school psychologists in Melbourne, Australia. The Australian Educational and Developmental Psychologist, 30, 5473.
Beidas, R.S., Mychailyszyn, M.P., Edmunds, J.M., Khanna, M.S., Downey, M.M., & Kendall, P.C. (2012). Training school mental health providers to deliver cognitive-behavioral therapy. School Mental Health, 4, 197206.
Biggs, B.K., Vernberg, E.M., & Wu, Y.P. (2012). Social anxiety and adolescents’ friendships: The role of social withdrawal. The Journal of Early Adolescence, 32, 802823.
Birmaher, B., Brent, D., Chiappetta, l., Bridge, J., Monga, S., & Baugher, M. (1999). Psychometric properties of the screen for child anxiety related emotional disorders (SCARED): A replication study. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 38, 12301326.
Campbell, M.A. (2003). An innovative multidisciplinary approach to identifying at-risk children in primary schools. Australian Journal of Guidance and Counselling, 13, 159166.
Costello, E.J., He, J., Sampson, N.A., Kessler, R.C., & Merikangas, K.R. (2014). Services for adolescents with psychiatric disorders: 12-month data from the national comorbidity Survey–Adolescent. Psychiatric Services, 65, 359366.
Cunningham, J.M., & Suldo, S.M. (2014). Accuracy of teachers in identifying elementary school students who report at-risk levels of anxiety and depression. School Mental Health, 6, 237250.
Dwyer, S.B., Nicholson, J.M., & Battistutta, D. (2006). Parent and teacher identification of children at risk of developing internalizing or externalizing mental health problems: A comparison of screening methods. Prevention Science, 7, 343357.
Essau, C.A. (2003). Comorbidity of anxiety disorders in adolescents. Depression and Anxiety, 18, 16.
Fergusson, D., & Woodward, L. (2002). Mental health, educational, and social role outcomes of adolescents with depression. Archives of General Psychiatry, 59, 225231.
Girio-Herrera, E., Owens, J.S., & Langberg, J.M. (2013). Perceived barriers to help-seeking among parents of at-risk kindergarteners in rural communities. Journal of Clinical Child & Adolescent Psychology, 42, 6877.
Gowers, S., Thomas, S., & Deeley, S. (2004). Can primary schools contribute effectively to Tier I Child Mental Health Services? Clinical Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 9, 419425.
Headley, C.J., & Campbell, M.A. (2011). Teachers’ recognition and referral of anxiety disorders in primary school children. Australian Journal of Educational & Developmental Psychology, 11, 7890.
Headley, C.J., & Campbell, M.A. (2013). Teachers’ knowledge of anxiety and identification of excessive anxiety in children. Australian Journal of Teacher Education, 38, 4866.
Hettema, J.M., Neale, M.C., & Kendler, K.S. (2001). A review and meta-analysis of the genetic epidemiology of anxiety disorders. American Journal of Psychiatry, 158, 15681578.
Hinchcliffe, K.J., & Campbell, M.A. (2016). Tipping points: Teachers’ reported reasons for referring primary school children for excessive anxiety. Journal of Psychologists and Counsellors in Schools, 26, 8499.
Kaye, W.H., Bulik, C.M., Thornton, L., Barbarich, N., Masters, K., & Price Foundation Collaborative Group. (2004). Comorbidity of anxiety disorders with anorexia and bulimia nervosa. American Journal of Psychiatry, 161, 22152221.
Kochel, K.P., Ladd, G.W., & Rudolph, K.D. (2012). Longitudinal associations among youth depressive symptoms, peer victimization, and low peer acceptance: An interpersonal process perspective. Child Development, 83, 637650.
Kim, Y., Thayne, J., & Wei, Q. (2017). An embodied agent helps anxious students in mathematics learning. Educational Technology Research and Development, 65, 219235.
Lawrence, D., Hafekost, J., Johnson, S.E., Saw, S., Buckingham, W.J., Sawyer, M.G., & Zubrick, S.R. (2016). Key findings from the second Australian child and adolescent survey of mental health and wellbeing. Australian & New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, 50, 876886.
Lehmann, E.L. (2009). Parametric versus nonparametrics: Two alternative methodologies. Journal of Nonparametric Statistics, 21, 397405.
McLean, C.P., & Hope, D.A. (2010). Subjective anxiety and behavioral avoidance: Gender, gender role, and perceived confirmability of self-report. Journal of Anxiety Disorders, 24, 494502.
Mathew, A.R., Pettit, J.W., Lewinsohn, P.M., Seeley, J.R., & Roberts, R.E. (2011). Co-morbidity between major depressive disorder and anxiety disorders: Shared etiology or direct causation? Psychological Medicine, 41, 20232034.
Molins, N.C., & Clopton, J.R. (2002). Teachers’ reports of the problem behavior of children in their classrooms. Psychological Reports, 90, 157164.
Papandrea, K., & Winefield, H. (2011). It’s not just the squeaky wheels that need the oil: Examining teachers’ views on the disparity between referral rates for students with internalizing versus externalizing problems. School Mental Health, 3, 222235.
Patalay, P., Deighton, J., Fonagy, P., & Wolpert, M. (2015). The relationship between internalising symptom development and academic attainment in early adolescence. PloS One, 10, e0116821.
Pearcy, M.T., Clopton, J.R., & Pope, A.W. (1993). Influences on teacher referral of children to mental health services: Gender, severity, and internalizing versus externalizing problems. Journal of Emotional and Behavioral Disorders, 1, 165169.
Reardon, T., Spence, S.H., Hesse, J., Shakir, A., & Creswell, C. (2018). Identifying children with anxiety disorders using brief versions of the Spence Children’s Anxiety Scale for Children, Parents, and Teachers. Psychological Assessment, 30, 13421355.
Rickwood, D., Deane, F.P., Wilson, C.J., & Ciarrochi, J. (2005). Young people’s help seeking for mental health problems. Australian e-Journal for the Advancement of Mental Health, 4(Suppl.), 134.
Rothi, D.M., Leavey, G., & Best, R. (2008). On the front-line: Teachers as active observers of pupils’ mental health. Teaching and Teacher Education, 24, 12171231.
Sayal, K. (2006). Annotation: Pathways to care for children with mental health problems. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 47, 649659.
Shiffrin, N., Brockveld, K.C., McLellan, L.F., Crawford, E., Kagan, E., Hudson, J.L., & Kendall, P.C. (2017). Evidence-based assessment and intervention for anxiety in school psychology. In Thielking, M. & Terjesen, M.D. (Eds.), Handbook of Australian school psychology: Integrating international research, practice, and policy (pp. 251268). Cham, Switzerland: Springer International Publishing.
Skedgell, K., & Kearney, C.A. (2016). Predictors of absenteeism severity in truant youth: A dimensional and categorical analysis. American Secondary Education, 45, 4658.
Stevenson-Hinde, J., & Shouldice, A. (1993). Wariness to strangers: A behavior systems perspective revisited. In Rubin, K.H. & Asendorpf, J.B. (Eds.), Social withdrawal, inhibition, and shyness in childhood (pp.101116). New York, NY: Lawrence Erlbaum.
Teagle, S.E. (2002). Parental problem recognition and child mental health service use. Mental Health Services Research, 4, 257266.
Trudgen, M., & Lawn, S. (2011). What is the threshold of teachers’ recognition and report of concerns about anxiety and depression in students? An exploratory study with teachers of adolescents in regional Australia. Australian Journal of Guidance and Counselling, 21, 126141.
Van Ameringen, M., Mancini, C., & Farvolden, P. (2003). The impact of anxiety disorders on educational achievement. Journal of Anxiety Disorders, 17, 561571.

Keywords

Related content

Powered by UNSILO

Secondary school teachers’ ability to recognise and refer students with differing levels of anxiety

  • Nadine Missenden (a1) and Marilyn Campbell (a1)

Metrics

Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed.