It may be easy for Michelle Beauch­esne to diag­nose strep throat, but it’s much more chal­lenging for the asso­ciate pro­fessor of nursing in the Bouvé Col­lege of Health Sci­ences to iden­tify mental health prob­lems in chil­dren whose mom or dad serves in the military.

We need to figure out what’s going on in the child’s life in school, in the com­mu­nity and within her family,” Beauch­esne told more than 100 school nurses, coun­selors and admin­is­ters in the Curry Stu­dent Center Ball­room on Nov. 2 for a con­fer­ence on sup­porting chil­dren in mil­i­tary fam­i­lies. “Char­ac­ter­is­tics of chil­dren are depen­dent in part on their cul­ture, their fam­i­lies and their social circumstances.”

The con­fer­ence — “Sup­porting the Home Front: Schools Sup­porting Mil­i­tary Con­nected Chil­dren” — was cospon­sored by Home Base (a joint pro­gram of the Red Sox Foun­da­tion and Mass­a­chu­setts Gen­eral Hos­pital), the School Health Unit within the Mass­a­chu­setts Depart­ment of Public Health and the North­eastern Uni­ver­sity School Health Insti­tute in the Col­lege of Pro­fes­sional Studies.

Terry Fulmer, dean of the Bouvé Col­lege of Health Sci­ences, praised the large group of health-​​care pro­fes­sionals for caring for chil­dren in mil­i­tary fam­i­lies. “You are the heroes of this enter­prise because you are with these chil­dren and their fam­i­lies every day,” she said. “What you do is so essential.”

More than 13,000 military-​​connected chil­dren live in Mass­a­chu­setts. Health-​​care pro­fes­sionals must mon­itor their growth and devel­op­ment on an ongoing basis, Beauch­esne said.

School bul­lying, depres­sion and family dys­func­tion are clear warning signs that a child may be in need of psy­chi­atric care. “Give kids an oppor­tu­nity to share what’s wor­rying them,” Beauch­esne explained. “Pay atten­tion to con­cerned par­ents, teachers and family mem­bers,” she added.

But Beauch­esne encour­aged health-​​care pro­fes­sionals to down­play slightly unusual behavior. “All kids are normal unless proven oth­er­wise,” she said. “They act dif­fer­ently to the same vari­able at dif­ferent stages in their lives.”

Assis­tant pro­fessor of nursing Ann Pol­cari also addressed the audience.

She said chil­dren in mil­i­tary fam­i­lies who don’t par­tic­i­pate in after­school activ­i­ties run the risk of responding poorly to stress. “Acute stress may trigger symp­toms of anx­iety or depres­sion or post-​​traumatic-​​stress dis­order,” Pol­cari explained.

A child’s hap­pi­ness is directly related her parent’s well being, she said. “If the parent is doing well, then the child would be doing better because he or she has a place to go and a respon­sive person to help.”