The Teacher's Guide to Student Mental Health

William Dikel (Author)

Overview | Contents | Formats

From ADHD to schizophrenia and everything in between, what teachers need to know about their students’ mental health.

Twenty percent of children and adolescents have a mental health disorder and in five percent, the disorder is severe. Chances are that every classroom in America will have at least one student who has a mental health disorder, possibly even in the severe range. These students often have symptoms that interfere with their ability to learn. From Ontario, Canada to California, school districts and state Boards of Education are recognizing the importance of comprehensive approaches to student mental health that include teacher education.

By understanding child and adolescent mental health issues, general education and special education teachers have additional tools to provide the most successful educational environment for their students. But where can a teacher turn to get reliable information on what they need to know?
Here, William Dikel, MD, a board-certified child and adolescent psychiatrist, who serves as a consultant to school districts nationwide, answers the call with a comprehensive, teacher-focused guide to student mental health. From anxiety and depression to ADHD, autism spectrum disorders, behavior disorders, substance use disorders, and psychoses, this practical book provides essential information on how mental health disorders are diagnosed and treated, how they tend to manifest at school, and how they affect students’ emotions, behaviors, and ability to learn. It explains why traditional behavioral interventions are often unsuccessful, and describes effective classroom interventions that teachers can use to provide optimal educational experiences.

Teachers will learn the differences between normal child and adolescent behaviors and behaviors that reflect underlying mental health disorders, and will recognize where these behaviors fall on a spectrum, ranging from behavioral (planned, volitional acts that clearly have a function) to the clinical (where a mental health disorder is causing the behavior).

They will also learn how to communicate effectively with their school teams (and student families) to ensure that school mental health staff (psychologists, social workers, counselors, and nurses) will be able to provide appropriate interventions for students in need. Administrators will learn the importance of creating a district mental health plan that clearly defines the roles of teachers, mental health staff, principals, and others, with the goal of establishing a seamless system of coordinated professionals all working to meet the student’s needs.

Finally, the book profiles successful programs, provided both by school districts and in collaboration with community mental health professionals, including Response to Intervention (RTI), Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS), social-emotional learning, and school-linked mental health services.

Based on the author’s thirty years of experience providing consultation to teachers in settings varying from general education classrooms to self-contained special education programs for severely emotionally disturbed students, this book will be an invaluable guide for parents, school principals, special education directors, school social workers, counselors, psychologists, and nurses.

Book Details

  • Hardcover
  • July 2014
  • ISBN 978-0-393-70864-6
  • 6.5 × 9.6 in / 320 pages
  • Sales Territory: Worldwide

Other Formats

  1. Book CoverStudent Mental Health: A Guide For Teachers, School and District Leaders, School Psychologists and Nurses, Social Workers, Counselors, and Parents


Endorsements & Reviews

“Dikel presents information in clearly defined sections that include definitions of disorders, ‘manifestations in the classroom,’ and treatment. This format should make it easy for a teacher to navigate foreign terrain. . . . [A] welcome addition to a school social worker’s bookshelf of resources. . . . A newer teacher may benefit from reading this book before entering the conference room for his or her first interdisciplinary meeting.” — School Social Work Journal

“For educational professionals seeking advice and direction on how to support students with mental health conditions, The Teacher’s Guide to Student Mental Health is a great resource. . . . [T]he writing is clear and accessible, and colorful ‘vignettes’ provide miniature case studies.” — NAMI blog

“Children are individuals with individual needs. A multidisciplinary team must collaborate to design a plan that will meet each student at their level. Dikel’s text is a good place to start. . . . Easy to read, Dikel’s book encompasses the basics of psychiatric diagnoses and educational eligibilities, including IEPs, and tips about behavioral modification techniques as well as coping strategies for students and families. . . . [W]orth reading cover to cover, it can also be used as a handy reference guide for topic-specific questions.” — PsychCentral

“The wealth of knowledge captured in each section exemplifies the significance of school-based mental health service and support. This guide should be a permanent reference in the public and personal libraries of practitioners and parents who seek an extensive review of evidence-based techniques to effectively address factors associated with school mental health. . . . Highly recommended.” — CHOICE

“Dr. Dikel's book is a unique and necessary tool for general and special education teachers, student support service providers, and school administrators. It is an easy-to-read, comprehensive resource that provides valuable information about identifying and responding to the mental health needs of students through a full continuum of school-based services. Guidelines for establishing school and district mental health plans offer a valuable contribution to the field. This is a must-read for educators and anyone else invested in promoting student mental health and academic success!” — Nancy Lever, PhD, & Sharon Stephan, PhD, Co-Directors, Center for School Mental Health, University of Maryland

“A complete reference that will assist teachers as they help students navigate their school career, this book provides comprehensive descriptions of mental health conditions and explains the educational system in the context of student mental health with the understanding that teachers are not clinicians who can diagnose. Most importantly, it offers a sensible paradigm through which educators can collaborate with administrators and other licensed and non-licensed staff to ensure that our students get what they need in order to be successful. I will definitely use this book.” — Kimberly Colbert, English Teacher, Central High School, St. Paul, Minnesota

“Dr. William Dikel draws on his extensive experience as a child and adolescent psychiatrist and school consultant in this highly readable book for educators. In addition to being a concise compendium of psychiatric disorders, the book presents a useful conceptualization to help teachers distinguish between ‘behavioral’ and ‘clinical’ manifestations. Dikel describes how disorders affect classroom function and outlines effective treatment approaches. The Teacher’s Guide to Student Mental Health should be required reading for all teachers and mental health professionals working with schools. It will also be useful for therapists who work with children, adolescents, and their families, and for parents who wish to know more about school accommodations for emotional and behavioral disabilities.” — Lois T. Flaherty, MD, Lecturer on Psychiatry, Harvard University; President-elect, ISAPP; Editor-in-chief, Adolescent Psychiatry

The Teacher’s Guide to Student Mental Health addresses the challenges teachers face when behavior or mental health concerns impact learning. Educators play a significant role in promoting health and well-being in their students by facilitating a nurturing, learning environment in the classroom, but with the variety of concerns and issues that arrive with students daily, this may not be enough. By making the topic of mental health palatable for non-mental health professionals, William Dikel demystifies the most common student mental health concerns for educators, and presents practical interventions teachers can immediately implement. This book will pave the way for better school environments to help students thrive. Every school support staff should have this book for reference.” — Kelly A. Stern, State Educational Specialist for School Based Behavioral Health, Honolulu, Hawaii

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