Research has revealed that more than a third of education professionals are expected to lose their job by 2020. Hence, mental health for teachers is becoming a very serious issue.
According to some recent studies that were conducted, more than half of Britain’s teachers were diagnosed with one sort of mental health problem or another. About 76% of education professionals also report experiencing psychological, behavioral, or physical symptoms as a direct result of the work that they do.
Why Teachers Mental Health Matters
The importance of teacher mental health cannot be understated. It is crucially important because not only does it affect the teachers themselves with a lot of suffering but it also directly has an effect in the classroom. The mental health of the teachers will have a direct link to the outcomes of the classrooms. Studies show that about 77 percent of teachers felt that having poor mental health was having a severely detrimental effect on the mental health of their students. A very large percentage of these teachers, about 85% said that it had an adverse effect on their quality of lesson planning.
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Build Supportive Cultures
In order to tackle this very serious issue of teacher mental health, there needs to be an initiative to tackle it head-on. It is the responsibility of leaders of schools to build cultures that are open and which actively support wellbeing. A lot of studies have shown that most teachers do not feel comfortable freely talking about their struggles with mental health problems with their manager. They fear being judged, the stigma against mental health issues is still not gone even though so much social progress has been made. The fact that teachers are uncomfortable talking about their issues with their managers points to the severity of this issue. School leaders can do a lot in this regard. They can adopt open-door policies and they can also encourage staff to actively share any issues that they may be having, school leaders need to play an active role in this regard. A system that has a mentor or a buddy system can also be implemented. This will be especially helpful for the newer members of the staff who are at a higher risk of developing mental health disorders than the more seasoned teachers. A lot of things can be done in order to properly promote a culture where teachers feel at ease in discussing their problems with their supervisors and managers.
The thing that is most often cited as the cause of teacher mental health problems and also the primary reason for teachers quitting is their workload. Hence, schools that have arrangements such as sharing jobs will find it a lot easier to retain the teachers that they do have and to also alleviate a lot of their problems. While most government departments in charge of education have been working on developing strategies in order to help schools manage their workloads, there still remain a lot of things that school leaders can do and implement right at this moment. The need to do this has never been stronger as has been proven by the horrific statistics that we provided right at the off-set of this article. School leaders, for example, can set limits on meetings that happen after school and also ensure that only relevant personnel is present during those meetings. They can also actively make sure that their employees take lunch and break times and also make sure that they know that responding to emails does not have to be done instantly. This can take a lot of pressure off of the teachers. School leaders should also restrict the hours when school authorities can email the teachers. All of these things can go a very long way in helping teachers deal with their workload and better manage their mental health. If you are a teacher who is tired of all the workload stress that comes with the profession of teaching, consider reading Suzanne Klein’s blog to get some ideas about alternatives.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, or CBT in short, is a kind of therapy that teaches people to observe the way their behavior and the thoughts that they have, affect their mood. The purpose of CBT is to build new patterns of thinking so that their thought patterns do not have an adverse effect on their mood. CBT is only second to psychotropic medications when it comes to dealing with a whole host of mental health issues. It is especially applicable for people who suffer from anxiety and depression as well. Meditation exercises have also been proven to have a positive effect on our mental health. When you train people to be much more aware of their thoughts and feelings, these thoughts and feelings can then be better managed and will thus not become overwhelming to the individual.
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