During a pre-flight safety briefing, passengers are reminded that in case of an emergency, they secure their own oxygen masks before they help their children. That’s because only once you know how it’s done, you can do it for your little ones. The same truth applies to mental health as well, and it is something teachers should consider.
As a teacher, you share a unique relationship with your students. While providing proper education is imperative, it is also essential that teachers develop an emotional bond with their students. However, it is difficult to discuss good mental health and wellbeing in front of a class, if you as an adult do not practice it yourself.
Only when a teacher knows how to support their mental health and wellbeing, they will be able to provide a supportive learning environment.
Key causes of teacher stress
Today, it is the responsibility of the administrator of a school to support the wellbeing of their teaching staff. That’s because it not only has an adverse effect on teachers themselves but also directly affect classroom outcomes.
According to a recent survey, 77 percent of teachers said that their poor mental health is holding back the pupils’ progress.
Here are some of the biggest stress triggers for teachers:
● Workload: The most cited causes for teacher stress is increased workload as they spend hours planning lessons, inputting data, assessing pupils and marking homework. Though a school-day is shorter than a standard office day, many teachers put in many extra hours after school.
● High-stake job demands: Heightened attention towards student test scores has put teachers under increased scrutiny as their professionalism is measured by student performance. Also, the demanding needs of parent put unwanted pressure on them.
● Bad behaviour of students: Disruptive student behaviour can create tension in a classroom, thus pushing learning to the background. This behaviour impacts more than the student involved, which makes the atmosphere detrimental to study.
Did you know? 61 percent of educators say that their work is always or often stressful.
Student achievement & teacher health
As teachers are the people who educate the children to become the best individuals, they have a significant influence on their development as well.
To work effectively as a teacher, it is important to be aware of your physical and mental stability. The best practice is to identify the factors that play a major role in determining stress levels and manage them.
In a recent study, medical researchers discovered that in classrooms where teachers admitted to higher levels of burnout, students were discovered to have higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Teachers who are mentally and emotionally disengaged from their students are less effective teachers too. Also, student performance is significantly impaired by disinterested teachers.
Solutions to teacher stress
The school organization has an important role to play to help teachers stay in education, and remain happy and healthy while they do so:
● Authorities can set up workshops and support programs to alleviate teacher stress before it becomes overwhelming.
● Wellness programs too can improve the health outcomes of teachers.
● Social and emotional programs can help teachers manage their students more effectively and help reduce anxiety.
Importance of student mental health
The importance of teacher mental health is invaluable to the wellbeing of a student. However, at times, the poor mental health of the student can also hamper their ability to focus on learning.
Lack of motivation to attend school, lack of participation in extra-curricular activities and unwanted thoughts are common mental health symptoms in students. If not addressed in time, they can be a potential barrier to their schooling.
Close to 80 percent students do not receive the mental health care they need at school.
Teacher-Student mental health: A two-way streak
For a teacher to teach effectively and for a student to grasp and learn effectively, it is important that both are of sound mental health.
School personnel plays a vital role in providing support and watching out for warning signs in teachers and students who face issues. An adequate counselling program can enhance the teacher-student relationship.
Remember, more supportive school communities lead to more positive outcomes for students as well as teachers, and is the key to proper education.
The above article is authored by Karishmma V Mangal – Director and Trustee, Thakur International School – Cambridge