Original Research

Teacher awareness of psychosocial support available as per the Integrated School Health Policy in South Africa

Jace Pillay, Leila Patel, Rubina Setlhare-Kajee
South African Journal of Childhood Education | Vol 13, No 1 | a1172 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajce.v13i1.1172 | © 2023 Jace Pillay, Leila Patel, Rubina Setlhare-Kajee | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 11 January 2022 | Published: 03 February 2023

About the author(s)

Jace Pillay, South African Research Chair in Education and Care in Childhood, Faculty of Education, University of Johannesburg, Johannesburg, South Africa
Leila Patel, Department of Social Work, Faculty of Humanities, University of Johannesburg, Johannesburg, South Africa
Rubina Setlhare-Kajee, Department of Educational Psychology, Faculty of Education, University of the Western Cape, Cape Town, South Africa


Background: In 2012, the South African government initiated the Integrated School Health Policy (ISHP) to serve as a national guideline on providing school health and support services from key stakeholders such as the Department of Health (DoH), Department of Basic Education (DBE) and Department of Social Development (DSD). However, despite the ISHP regulations, publications report that teachers in under-resourced government schools are not sufficiently equipped to address their learners’ psychosocial challenges.

Aim: This study aimed to assess which psychosocial interventions implemented at the schools the school teachers are aware of.

Setting: A total of 50 school teachers from five under-resourced primary schools in Gauteng school communities of Meadowlands, Ivory Park, Alexandra and Doornkop-Soweto completed a feedback questionnaire designed by the investigators.

Methods: This descriptive study follows a quantitative descriptive design. A comparative descriptive analysis between schools using frequencies, percentages and graphs was used to analyse the results.

Results: Results indicate that a school teachers’ ability to support their learners varies per school and is based on their school’s compliance to training their teachers on the school safety protocols and is not affected much by external training. Schools that follow the ISPH regulations on teachers’ training of protocols, better equip their teachers to observe psychosocial challenges their learners face.

Conclusion: Despite the availability of guidelines, this study observes a gap in educators’ observations of mental health concerns or external stakeholders responsible for non-physical assistance.

Contribution: Findings of this study provide feedback to all relevant stakeholders to assist in their future recommendations planning. One recommendation the authors of this study suggest may be that further studies explore if the lack of mental health observations is a result of poor teachers–student relations or a need for school teachers to be educated on learner mental health risk factors.


psychosocial support; psychosocial challenges; primary schools; under resourced; educator training; teachers feedback; children; Africa


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South African Journal of Education  vol: 43  issue: 4  first page: 1  year: 2023  
doi: 10.15700//saje.v43n4a2199