Skip to main content

Table 3 Themes and representative quotes from teacher semi-structured interviews

From: Perceptions, attitudes, and knowledge of teachers serving as mental health lay counselors in a low and middle income country: a mixed methods pragmatic pilot study

Question Category Theme Quote
Knowledge Ability to identify children in need “I thought of one child and when the time came to identify one who needed help, I ended up choosing the child. In the training, we had learned to identify the qualities of a withdrawn child. This child possessed these qualities”
Ability to use program tools to support children “There was this child in the primary section that was never active in class. The child wasn’t eager to join or participate in any of the activities and we assumed that was her nature. We had never before coaxed her to join in. We thought this is how she worked. But after the training we started to coax her and started to give her positive words of encouragement, and we told her that she is such a capable and good girl and that she can do it. This approached worked because the child started to participate in the activities at school and even wanted to be part of the small drama that we wanted to have and the child came in front of all these people and spoke very well. The child did not feel shy or scared”
“I used tools to calm them down and also referred to the physical coping strategies such as taking long deep breaths to help them calm down and cope with the situation”
“We started to give the students stars according to their homework or class work performance and when the child got stars it motivated and encouraged them to work harder and made them realise that they can also come up to the level of the other students and there was progress in their performance too”
“The child would not mix about and talk with the other children, but when I made the child sit with the brainy students the child started to work better in class and started to feel that he/she could also do better like the brainy students”
“I told the class that each one of them would be called for an interview one by one. I sat them down and made them draw the smiley faces. I asked them to make three faces, the happy, angry faces and started to call them privately one by one. I did not call on her at first. She was probably the 3rd or the 4th student to come for the pretend interview in which we were able to talk and I got to know about her emotions too. In this way I got my work done and all the kids were happy too”
Change in self-efficacy “Earlier we would very easily punish the child without trying to find out the reason for his/her actions. But now we know that there are issues that lead a child to do that mischief or there is a reason why the child is behaving in that manner. We are much more aware and know better than to punish, scold, or beat up the child”
“I started to understand that sometimes you need to talk and have a conversation with the student and explain why that action or behavior is unacceptable and how he/she should change and correct the wrongs in his speech and action. Many a times such talks actually work better with them than punishment”
Challenges “I was a bit unclear and unsure on how to use the emotional thermometer, so I didn’t use it”
“The parents of the children who live nearby do make time to come but the ones who are far away don’t have the time to come and neither do we have the time to go all the way to their houses to conduct the one on one. Besides this, we are also very uncomfortable to hold one on one with the parents”
“Sometimes it felt that nothing good can happen or be done to the child and the child wouldn’t improve. But we had monthly visits by (study staff) and she would look at our work and tell us if this approach didn’t work, the next month we should try the other approach”
Attitudes Changes in beliefs about mental health “Had it not been for the training I would probably have called him (the student) a thief… but the training taught me better”
“Before the training we would assume that the child was not interested and we wouldn’t bother going over to them and finding out why they aren’t showing any interest like the rest. We would tell them if they do the work it’s for their own good and if they do not, then it’s their loss. But now we have taken the training, we have come to understand that there is a reason for the withdrawal. Instead of treating them like outcastes, we now go to them and engage them in conversation and try to find out what is bothering them”
Perceptions of serving as a lay counselor Serving as lay counselor was acceptable “We would like to thank you for giving us the skills and trainings through which our children have been able to improve, and we would like to get many more such trainings”
“The program should not stop; it needs to continue and not just in our area… there must be a lot of other such schools in other rural areas, and they would most certainly need this kind of program.”
Need for more support “I felt we would really need additional training to teach us how to do all these things because I feel the training was done at such a short span of time that we didn’t get enough time”