Mental Health

Poor Conditions in Classrooms Lead to Mental Health Problems?

| by Alex Groberman

According to a new study, first-grade classrooms that don’t have enough resources, employ bad teachers and have anything else that may contribute to a bad environment – are linked to a higher number of mental health problems in students.

The study's lead author, Melissa A. Milkie, a sociology professor at the University of Maryland, had this to say on the matter:

"Teachers also may be more discouraged or harsh when they can't teach properly due to the fact that they are missing key elements," she explained in a news release from the American Sociological Association.

"I think parents care a lot about their children's mental health -- their emotional and behavioral well-being -- but we as a society don't tend to focus on that as an important educational outcome nearly as much as we talk about and think about academic outcomes," Milkie said.

For the purpose of this study, parents and teachers of nearly 10,700 first-grade students in the U.S. were interviewed. As per their results, the researchers noted that students who came from classrooms with fewer resources and negatively-minded teachers were more likely to experience mental health problems. These issues included, but weren’t limited to: lack of attentiveness, fighting, anxiety, sadness and worse formations of friendship.

"For teachers to get the support and encouragement that they need from colleagues, including the principal, is likely important for whether the teachers are able to create a classroom climate that helps children thrive," Milkie said. "If teachers are feeling stressed out because they aren't getting what they need from their colleagues, that stress may carry over to the kids."

This study appeared in the Journal of Health and Social Behavior.

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