Teaching and Mental Health

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Health Assured team

16 January 2024

Research has revealed that over a third of education professionals are expected to leave their jobs by 2025, highlighting the importance of teacher mental health and the need to address this crisis.

The tragic death of headteacher Ruth Perry in 2023 brought the mental health crisis in teaching into clear focus. The coroner’s report confirmed that she took her own life partly because of the stress caused by Ofsted downgrading her school from outstanding to inadequate.

This has raised a lot of questions about whether schools and higher education institutions have sufficient mental health support for teachers, lecturers, and leaders and if there is too much pressure. In response, Ofsted has put a temporary pause on inspections to focus on better mental health training for their colleagues.

The NASUWT reported that four in every five teachers say that their workload and stress of the job have increased, and half of teachers say that workload has negatively affected their physical and mental health. For years, children’s and young people’s mental health has been at the forefront of education policies- and rightly so.

But where does this leave the teachers, lecturers, and leaders? And does poor teacher mental health affect students and their educational progression?

 

How does teacher wellbeing affect students?

Regardless of the age group, students are conscious of their educator’s mental health and recognise when they are struggling. This can affect their own mental health and grades as they are not receiving quality teaching time or the correct educational support.

Another risk is if an educator is unable to come to work due to mental health issues. Often, there are cover teachers that step in, impacting pupil learning with inconsistencies in teaching styles and understanding of students.

Teachers with good mental health can inspire, inform, and care. Teachers with poor mental health risk inadequate performance, safeguarding issues, and negatively impacted grades.

In a study carried out by Leeds Beckett University, most teachers agreed that a teacher’s wellbeing affects their performance as an educational professional, especially their ability to teach in the classroom.

 

How can schools and higher education institutions safeguard their colleague’s mental health?

  1. Adopt a wellbeing strategy

Education institutions are no strangers to wellbeing strategies and many of them have one already implemented. However, it is not a legal requirement, but policies should be consistent with the Equality Act 2010 which recognises many mental health conditions.

Wellbeing strategies allow leaders to plan mental health activities, implement ways to better support teacher and student mental health, and signpost to mental health support. Wellbeing strategies can consist of wellbeing weeks, celebrating awareness days, creating interactive activities to support coping with mental health issues, and setting up regular check-in meetings.

 

  1. Regular check-in meetings

Regular mental health check-ins increase the ability to monitor teacher’s mental health and wellbeing for the betterment of educators and students.

Tracking teachers’ mental wellbeing will allow senior individuals to assess if teachers need extra support with their mental health, prevent mental health crises, and protect pupils’ mental wellness.

Points to consider for wellbeing performance targets:

  • Teacher satisfaction
  • Teacher motivation
  • Teacher Retention
  • Peer Satisfaction
  • Work environment

 

  1. Wellbeing Ambassadors

Wellbeing ambassadors are necessary for upholding mental health wellness in schools and higher education institutions. They support mental health by leading and applying ways to support teachers, lecturers, and students who cope with and manage mental health issues.

Ambassadors will uphold expectations of mental health care, and safeguard teachers' and pupils’ mental health through investigating, signposting, and setting up regular mental wellness meetings that assess if there is additional support needed.

 

  1. Wellbeing room

Wellbeing rooms are dedicated quiet, calm, and relaxing rooms for teachers to drop in if they are feeling overwhelmed with their mental wellbeing and work commitments.

Wellbeing rooms provide a safe space for teachers to have somewhere to rest, unwind, and relax.

Some wellbeing rooms have features that assist with calming and mindfulness, such as blackout blinds, yoga mats, and furniture that promotes relaxation.

 

Supporting your organisation's mental health challenges

With a Health Assured Employee Assistance Programme (EAP), we can offer you practical advice and support when it comes to dealing with anxiety, and depression, and how to improve your work-life balance.

Our EAP provides guidance and supports your employees with their mental health in the workplace and at home. We can help you create a safe, productive workspace that supports all.

We support your employee's mental wellbeing with any problems they might be facing in their professional or personal lives with our 24-hour counselling helpline.

 

Find out more about EAPs

 

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