School nurses' involvement, attitudes and training needs for mental health work: a UK-wide cross-sectional study

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Aim. The aim of this study was to identify school nurses' views concerning the mental health aspects of their role, training requirements and attitudes towards depression in young people. Background. Mental health problems in children and young people have high prevalence worldwide; in the United Kingdom they affect nearly 12% of secondary school pupils. School nurses have a wide-ranging role, and identifying and managing mental health problems is an important part of their work. Methods. A cross-sectional study was conducted using a postal questionnaire sent to a random sample of 700 school nurses throughout the United Kingdom in 2008. Questions concerned involvement in mental health work and training needs for this work. Attitudes were measured using the Depression Attitude Questionnaire. Results. Questionnaires were returned by 258 (37%) nurses. Nearly half of respondents (46%) had not received any postregistration training in mental health, yet 93% agreed that this was an integral part of their job. Most (55%) noted that involvement with young people's psychological problems occupied more than a quarter of their work time. Staff attitudes were broadly similar to those of other primary care professionals, and indicated a rejection of stigmatizing views of depression and strong acknowledgement of the role of the school nurse in providing support. Conclusion. Working with young people who self-harm, and recognizing and being better equipped to assist in managing depression and anxiety are key topics for staff development programmes.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2471 - 2480
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Advanced Nursing
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2010


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