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Early childhood educators' perceptions of preschoolers' mental health problems: A qualitative analysis

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Background: Early childhood education services create potentially optimal opportunities to identify and respond effectively to preschoolers' mental health problems. However, little is known about the knowledge, skills and competencies of early childhood educators in the area of mental health. The present study aimed to contribute to this field through conducting focus group interviews with professionals from public early childhood education centres in Greece.Methods: Thirty-four educators attended five focus group meetings, with each group consisting of five to nine participants and two discussion facilitators. A thematic analysis was conducted using line-by-line open coding. Constructed codes from the wording used by the participants in the interviews were created, and constant comparisons for developing themes as well as seeking data not conforming to each theme were used independently by two researchers. At the end of this process, no new information was being provided and there was repetition in each of the categories.Results: The analysis identified three themes in the data: risk factors for preschoolers' mental health problems, signs of preschoolers' mental health problems and practices of helping preschoolers with mental health problems. Results suggested that early childhood educators had satisfactory awareness of many preschoolers' mental health issues, although they showed a rather limited understanding in some domains. Moreover, they seemed to deliver inadequate practices in responding effectively to children's and families' mental health problems.Conclusions: Best practice training in working with preschoolers, families and mental health services seems essential for helping young children receive the best level of support through early identification and intervention services for possible mental health problems. © 2014 Giannakopoulos et al.; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.




Giannakopoulos, G., Agapidaki, E., Dimitrakaki, C., Oikonomidou, D., Petanidou, D., Tsermidou, L., … Papadopoulou, K. (2014). Early childhood educators’ perceptions of preschoolers’ mental health problems: A qualitative analysis. Annals of General Psychiatry, 13(1).

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