• Biological and environmental factors, which contribute to a child’s mental health.
• Qualities and practices of early childhood education programs, which can have a positive impact on a child’s social/emotional development and overall mental health.
• Strategies a preschool teacher can implement to intentionally foster a child’s mental health and well-being.
There is a significant research to practice gap in the area of mental health practices and interventions in schools. Understanding the teacher perspective can provide important information about contextual influences that can be used to bridge the research to practice gap in school-based mental health practices. The purpose of this study was to examine teacher’s perceptions of current mental health needs in their schools; their knowledge, skills, training experiences and training needs; their roles for supporting children's mental health; and barriers to supporting mental health needs in their school settings.
Biological and environmental factors, which contribute to a child’s mental health Biological factors are traits or characteristics that are specific to the individual child and are present at birth. Biological factors include (Zeanah, Nagle, Stafford, Rice, & Farrer, 2005):
•Genetics, or hereditary factors such as those that influence physical size and appearance, and pace of development.
•Temperament, or the child’s style and personality, often described as “easy,” “slow to warm-up,” or “difficult”.
•Physical and health attributes, such as physical anomalies and prematurity. These factors influence development and play a role in how the caregiver responds to the child. Caregivers include parents, other family members such as grandparents, child care providers, and teachers. Early relationships with caregivers train children’s minds about how to interact with others and what to expect (Gallagher, 2005; Schore (Sorte, Biological Factors , 2011), 2001; Shore, 1997). For example, parents may respond positively to a child who is precocious (advanced in development), while responding less favorably to a child who is slower in development. When caregivers respond positively, children experience a boost to social and emotional health and, in turn, behave in desirable ways. When caregivers respond negatively to undesirable traits or difficult behaviors, such as crying, children are likely to respond with more negative behaviors, such as more crying until they are able to learn what is expected.
Reading article in the Kansas Safe School Resources Center they talked about different kinds mental problems children can have. They wrote Young people could have mental, emotional, and behavioral problems that are real, painful, and costly. These problems, often called "disorders," are sources of stress for children and their families, schools, and communities.
The number of young people and their families who are affected by mental, emotional, and behavioral disorders is significant. It is estimated that as many as one in five children and adolescents may have a mental health disorder that can be identified and require treatment.
Mental health disorders in children and adolescents are caused by biology, environment, or a combination of the two. Examples of biological factors are genetics, chemical imbalances in the body, and damage to the central nervous system, such as a head injury. Many environmental factors also can affect mental health, including exposure to violence, extreme stress, and the loss of an important person.
Families and communities, working together, can help children and adolescents with mental disorders. A broad range of services is often necessary to meet the needs of these young people and their families. (Child Mental Health Resources, 2012)
Strategies a preschool teacher can implement to environments that are welcoming and attuned to