The need for assessing mental health literacy among teachers: an overview


  • Surendran Venkataraman Department of Community Medicine, Mahatma Gandhi Medical College and Research Institute, Sri Balaji Vidyapeeth, Puducherry, India
  • Rajkumar Patil Department of Community Medicine, Mahatma Gandhi Medical College and Research Institute, Sri Balaji Vidyapeeth, Puducherry, India
  • Sivaprakash Balasundaram Department of Psychiatry, Mahatma Gandhi Medical College and Research Institute, Sri Balaji Vidyapeeth, Puducherry, India



Beliefs about mental illness, Help-seeking, Mental health, Mental illness, School teachers


Background: The magnitude of mental disorders is a growing public health concern. According to World Health Organization (WHO) reports, one out of five children suffer from a disabling mental illness. Majority of mental illnesses start during the adolescent period. Management of mental illnesses start from recognizing the needy adolescent and providing appropriate therapy and support. Most of the children and adolescents are students who spend almost half of their active time in schools under observation of their teachers. Teachers interact with students daily and can spot the changes in their behavior before they develop full-blown symptoms. Hence, teachers can be a major resource of importance in providing basic mental health services. The teacher’s ability to identify the early signs of mental illness in adolescent students can be considered as the most critical and neglected area. Majority of the studies are conducted in the community or adolescent students and much less attention has been paid to the mental health literacy of educators, who are important role models and youth influencers in addressing mental health literacy. The scenario in India in this regard is highly disappointing with few studies done among teachers.


World Health Organization. Promoting Mental Health, 2004. Available at: Accessed 30 August 2018.

World health Organization. Mental health: new understanding, new hope. Geneva: World Health Organization; 2002;178.

Saxena S, Funk M, Chisholm D. WHO’s Mental Health Action Plan 2013-2020: what can psychiatrists do to facilitate its implementation? World Psychiatry. 2014;13(2):107-9.

Arkar H, Eker D. Effect of psychiatric labels on attitudes toward mental illness in a Turkish sample. Int J Soc Psychiatry. 1994;40(3):205-13.

Zarcadoolas C, Pleasant A, Greer DS. Understanding health literacy: an expanded model. Health Promot Int. 2005;1;20(2):195-203.

Jorm AF, Korten AE, Jacomb PA, Christensen H, Rodgers B, Pollitt P. Mental health literacy: a survey of the public’s ability to recognise mental disorders and their beliefs about the effectiveness of treatment. Med J Aust. 1997;17;166(4):182-6.

Bose R, Sivaprakash, Nandi P. A cross-sectional study of mental health literacy of undergraduate college students. Sri balaji Vidyapeeth; 2016.

Jorm A. Mental health literacy: public knowledge and beliefs about mental disorders. Brit J Psychiatry. 2000;177(05):396-401.

Kieling C, Baker-Henningham H, Belfer M, Conti G, Ertem I, Omigbodun O, et al. Child and adolescent mental health worldwide: evidence for action. Lancet. 2011;378(9801):1515-25.

Dick B, Ferguson BJ. Health for the world’s adolescents: a second chance in the second decade. J Adolescent Heal Off Pub Soc Adolesc Med. 2015;56(1):3-6.

Clausen C, Guerrero A, Oshodi Y, Bazaid K, Leventhal B, Silva F et al. Advancing global child and adolescent mental health. Tidsskrift for Den norske legeforening. 2017.

Patel V, Kieling C, Maulik PK, Divan G. Improving access to care for children with mental disorders: a global perspective. Arch Dis Child. 2013;98(5):323-7.

Malhotra S, Patra BN. Prevalence of child and adolescent psychiatric disorders in India: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Child and adolescent psychiatry and mental health. 2014 Dec;8(1):22.

Saldanha D. Mental health: an Indian perspective 1946-2003. Med J Armed Forces India. 2005;61(2):205.

Saxena S, Thornicroft G, Knapp M, Whiteford H. Resources for mental health: scarcity, inequity, and inefficiency. Lancet. 2007;370(9590):878-89.

National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India. National Mental Health Survey of India. Prevalence, Pattern and Outcomes. National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences, 2016. Available at: Accessed 30 August 2018.

Reddy V, Gupta A, Lohiya A, Kharya P. Mental health issues and challenges in india: a review. Int J Sci Res Publ. 2013;3(2):3.

Srivastava DRK. Report of the Working Group on Disease Burden for 12th Five Year Plan. WG­3 (2): Non Communicable Diseases. Govt India Planning Commission. 2011: 337.

Shidhaye R, Kermode M. Stigma and discrimination as a barrier to mental health service utilization in India. Int Heal. 2013;1;5(1):6-8.

Kaur R, Pathak R. Treatment gap in mental healthcare: reflections from policy and research. Econ Polit Wkly. 2017;52(31):34-40.

Quiroga CV, Janosz M, Bisset S, Morin AJS. Early adolescent depression symptoms and school dropout: Mediating processes involving self-reported academic competence and achievement. J Educ Psychol. 2013;105(2):552-60.

Langeveld J, Joa I, Larsen TK, Rennan JA, Cosmovici E, Johannessen JO. Teachers’ awareness for psychotic symptoms in secondary school: the effects of an early detection programme and information campaign. Early Interv Psychiatry. 2011;5(2):115-21.

Loades ME, Mastroyannopoulou K. Teachers recognition of children’s mental health problems. Child Adolesc Ment Heal. 2010;15(3):150-6.

Vogel W. Depression in children and adolescents. Contin Med Educ. 2012;30(4):114-7.

Johnson C, Eva AL, Johnson L, Walker B. Don’t Turn Away: Empowering Teachers to Support Students’ Mental Health. Clear House J Educ Strateg Issues Ideas. 2011;1;84(1):9-14.

Maughan B, Collishaw S, Stringaris A. Depression in childhood and adolescence. J Can Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 2013;22(1):35-40.

Fazel M, Hoagwood K, Stephan S, Ford T. Mental health interventions in schools in high-income countries. Lancet Psychiatry. 2014;1;1(5):377-87.

Boudreau A, Santor D, Short kathy, Ferguson B. Taking mental health to school: A policy-oriented paper on school-based mental health for Ontario. Prov Cent Excell Child Youth Ment Health CHEO. 2009;44.

Kidger J, Donovan JL, Biddle L, Campbell R, Gunnell D. Supporting adolescent emotional health in schools: a mixed methods study of student and staff views in England. BMC Pub Heal. 2009; 31;9:403.

Midford R, Wilkes D, Young D. Evaluation of the In: Touch training program for the management of alcohol and other drug use issues in schools. J Drug Educ. 2005;35(1):1-14.

McVey G, Gusella J, Tweed S, Ferrari M. A controlled evaluation of web-based training for teachers and public health practitioners on the prevention of eating disorders. Eat Disord. 2009;17(1):1-26.

Stiffman AR, Striley C, Horvath VE, Hadley-Ives E, Polgar M, Elze D, et al. Organizational context and provider perception as determinants of mental health service use. J Behav Health Serv Res. 2001;28(2):188-204.

Jorm AF, Christensen H, Medway J, Korten AE, Jacomb PA, Rodgers B. Public belief systems about the helpfulness of interventions for depression: associations with history of depression and professional help-seeking. Soc Psychiatry Psychiatr Epidemiol. 2000;16;35(5):2119.

Repie MS. A school mental health issues survey from the perspective of regular and special education teachers, school counselors, and school psychologists. Educ Treat Child. 2005;28(3):279-98.

Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India. National health Policy 2017. Ministry of Health and Family Welfare; 2017. Available at: Accessed 30 August 2018.

Vranda M. Promotion of mental health and well-being of adolescents in schools: a NIMHANS model. J Psychiatry. 2015;18(5).

Srivastava K, Chatterjee K, Bhat PS. Mental health awareness: The Indian scenario. Ind Psychiatry J. 2016;25(2):131-4.

Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (Bureau of Planning), Government of India. Ninth Conference of the Central Council of Health and Family Welfare. Proceedings and Resolutions/ Decisions taken. Government of India, 2007. Available at:

Daniel L, Gupta S, Sagar R. Effect of educational module on knowledge of primary school teachers regarding early symptoms of childhood psychiatric disorders. Indian J Psychol Med. 2013;35(4):368.

Mendosa RD, Shihabuddeen I. Mental health literacy among elementary school teachers in rural South India. Delhi Psychiatry J. 2013;16(2):362.

Parikh N, Parikh M, Vankar G, Solanki C, Banwari G, Sharma P. Knowledge and attitudes of secondary and higher secondary school teachers toward mental illness in Ahmedabad. Indian J Soc Psychiatry. 2016;32(1):56.




How to Cite

Venkataraman, S., Patil, R., & Balasundaram, S. (2019). The need for assessing mental health literacy among teachers: an overview. International Journal of Research in Medical Sciences, 7(8), 3210–3215.



Review Articles