Protecting The Mental Health Of Teachers

More than 300 million people are now living with depression. Their number has grown by 18% over the past 10 years. Teachers with mental health issues are no exception.

Teachers tell their students that mindset matters. Yet teachers do not always allow themselves space to receive those same messages of reflection and self-care.

In fact, teachers, because of the nature of their job, are more than others affected by the conditions around them. For example, teachers who work in schools in high-poverty areas find that their job is taking a toll on their mental health.

What do we mean by high-poverty? It is estimated that of the world’s 2.2 billion children, one billion live on less than $1 a day; 600 million lack adequate housing; 400 million lack access to safe water; and 270 million lack access to health services.

In a large study from Australia, the impact of poverty was associated with higher indications of anxiety and depression in both students and teachers, and repeated experiences of poverty were associated with poorer mental health.

Teachers face these challenges on a daily basis and need support, specialized knowledge, and skills to deal with these children. This increased stress can affect their psychological state and have a direct impact on their general health and wellbeing.

Where can teachers find mental health support?

World organizations that coordinate and implement mental health programs make a huge effort to support good health in the workplace, including schools and other educational institutions.

mental health for teachers

There are several national workplace mental health programs around the world. One of them is NICE (The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence) in the UK. It is an independent organization responsible for providing evidence protocols in the field of health and social care. Their ‘Mental Wellbeing at Work’ guide contains a number of tips on how to create the right conditions for maintaining the mental wellbeing of employees, such as:

  • integrate mental wellbeing into organizational policy and management practice
  • abolish discrimination and stigma regarding mental health problems
  • provide mental health support at the stages of personnel selection, training, and work motivation
  • create equal opportunities for all workers
  • offer mental health support services for employees directly at the workplace

This approach ensures the wellbeing of employees, including teachers. If a teacher has psychological difficulties, he can receive proper help and be able to be effective in his work.  

Another organization is Mental Health First Aid. This program was developed in Australia and is implemented in over 20 countries around the world, including the governments of many participating countries. It applies to people who have the first symptoms of mental health disorders, worsening of existing disorders or mental health crisis. Their participation lasts until they receive the appropriate professional assistance, or until the end of the crisis.

The program focuses not only on regular assistance to people with mental health disorders, but also on the training of professionals to be able to recognize the signs and symptoms of mental health problems; understand the probable causes and risk factors for these problems; use evidence medical, psychological and alternative methods of care; provide first aid and support.It has been standardized and evaluated in more than 50 studies, and the meta-analysis found significant changes in three indicators: knowledge, attitudes, and ability to help. This program can be very useful for teachers who work in conditions of high poverty.

Finally, for immediate online assistance, BetterHelp is one of the best options. BetterHelp is the largest online counseling platform worldwide. They provide convenient and discreet access to licensed therapists. BetterHelp makes professional counseling available anytime, anywhere, through a computer, tablet or smartphone. They match you to the right counselor who can achieve the best results for you.

Counselors on BetterHelp are licensed, trained, experienced, and accredited psychologists, marriage and family therapists, clinical social workers or licensed professional counselors. All of them have a Masters Degree or a Doctorate Degree in their field. They have been qualified and certified by their state’s professional board after successfully completing the necessary education, exams, training and practice.

Mental health awareness needs to be raised

Often teachers do not know how mental health problems affect their quality of life and work, so strengthening their knowledge in this area is essential. Workplace mental health policies and practices need to be developed and implemented. Teachers need to know how to act when faced with a mental disorder, and to feel that they can get proper care and support.

Supporting educators' mental health during high-stress periods

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Cameron Wei
Researcher educator specializing in EdTech, educational innovations, computer-supported collaborative learning, technology integration and learning analytics.

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