Teacher-student relationships and mental health help seeking behaviors among elementary and secondary students in Ontario Canada
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This study examined associations between teacher-student relationship quality at school and teachers' responsiveness to students' emotional concerns in a classroom and (a) students' intention to seek help at school for mental health concerns and (b) mental health-related service use. Data for analyses came from the School Mental Health Survey, a cross-sectional survey of 31,120 grade 6-12 students, in 1968 classrooms, attending 248 schools in Ontario, Canada. Three-level (student, classroom, school) binary logistic regression was used to address the study objectives. Student ratings of the quality of teacher-student relationships and teachers' responsiveness were included as predictors, both at the individual student level and aggregated to represent a contextual level characteristic at the school and classroom level, respectively. At the student level, both teacher-student relationship quality and teacher responsiveness were positively associated with intentions to seek help at school among both elementary and secondary students (ORs ranged from 1.14-1.19 for relationships and 1.06-1.08 for responsiveness). Aggregated to the school level, teacher-student relationship quality was positively associated with mental health service use for secondary students (OR = 1.36, 95% CI [1.10, 1.69]). Positive and responsive teacher-student relationships were associated with help-seeking behaviors among students. Longitudinal studies are warranted to disentangle the temporality of these associations.
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