Topic 3 First steps of referral

The typical symptoms of mental problems and burdens in children and adolescents have already been discussed in detail in Module 2. If these symptoms are observed for longer than 2 weeks and there is no apparent improvement, a discussion should be sought with the affected student.  It must be clarified whether a certain event has occurred or a problem is present which burdens the pupil. Furthermore, it can be clarified during this conversation whether the teacher or also the classmates can support or relieve the student.  In addition, a responsible school psychologist or liaison teacher can be informed and included in the discussions. Specialized school psychologists are available on request in most countries. If these offers do not lead to an improvement in the student’s condition, the teacher should invite the parents to a parent interview. At this meeting, the teacher should report on his or her observations and, if necessary, motivate the student to initiate further support measures. The first steps here could be cooperation with a family counseling center. Depending on the situation, further interventions and diagnostic clarifications may be recommended. Last but not least, a child and adolescent psychologist can also point out support options.

Step by step:

  1. Observe student for 1 to 2 weeks: During this time, the teacher can make notes about typical behavioral problems and describe the corresponding situations. These notes help to document the behavioral problems.
  2. With the help of these notes, the teacher can then involve a school psychologist or other experts in this field and ask for an assessment. Further steps can then be planned
  3. Seek discussion with student: If the student has reached the age of majority, he/she or his/her parents can be asked for a discussion. Possibly this can also be done by the school psychologist or other professional. The observed symptoms should be addressed and possible offers of help should be discussed. The conversation should be sought only when the teacher is very sure that a mental disorder is present.
  4. Always respect the confidentiality!