New guidance has been published by the Department for Education on “Practical materials for primary and secondary schools to use to train staff about teaching mental wellbeing”. There’s a growing base of resources to help teachers support students’ mental health and wellbeing. However, where does this leave teachers’ mental health?
“Put your own oxygen mask on before helping others”
A study from UCL reveals that one in twenty teachers (in England) are reporting a long lasting mental health problem – a five-fold increase since the 1990s.
What help and support is there for teachers’ mental health? We’re investigating how we can evolve our products to provide more support to teachers’ mental health as well as to students’. In the process, we’ve researched what good sources of support currently exist and have put together this handy overview to get you started. It includes support networks and the main teaching unions in the UK. We understand that times are tough for teachers and paying attention to teachers’ mental health and wellbeing can be an afterthought.
Support networks and teaching unions for teachers’ mental health
In an environment that continually demands excellence, resilience, and adaptability, teachers often find themselves at the crossroads of passion and burnout. As the conversation around educators’ well-being gains momentum, several dedicated organisations and teaching unions have stepped up to offer invaluable resources, guidance, and support. The focus of “Support networks and teaching unions for teachers’ mental health” is to illuminate these lifelines, ensuring that every educator knows where to turn for assistance, advocacy, and understanding in their journey to mental wellness. Here’s an overview of some leading entities championing teachers’ mental health in the UK.
Education Support – Teachers’ Mental Health
Education Support is a UK charity dedicated to improving the health and wellbeing of teachers and education staff. Their advice is backed up by years of research and support to those in need. The site has sections for individual teachers and for school leaders looking to support their staff.
Mentally Healthy Schools – Supporting Staff Wellbeing
Mentally Healthy Schools brings together quality assured resources (primary school focused) that support the whole school community.
Mental Health Foundation
The Mental Health Foundation puts prevention at the heart of what it does and has information for schools, encouraging teachers to start with their own mental health and wellbeing.
Your Grey Matters
Our content partner, Your Grey Matters offers a range of expert training, including bespoke programs on staff mental health and wellbeing. You can choose half or full day or even twilight training sessions.
The NASUWT has created an informative and interesting post on how likely it is for stress, anxiety and depression to increase while working from home. With guidance and tips on working from home.
The NEU gives advice on how to spot signs you’re developing a mental health condition, where to get help and returning to work. NEU gives an overview on stress and mental health issues for teachers in the workplace.
NEU also offers a PDF download, ‘Keeping Happy and Healthy’. This document gives advice on teachers worried that their mental health is suffering because of the demands of their work.
Community For Education Professionals gives advice on stress in the workplace. You can find details about their Annual Survey to track stress levels amongst members. A Stress App helps members learn to manage their stress. You can also find stress information sheets with some great insights and suggestions on how to tackle stress (members only). They also advise getting in touch with the Education Support Partnership which supports staff throughout the UK.
In a blog from NAHT they respond to new data from the Education Support Partnership. Talking about a concern for teachers through evidence of ‘serious stress from the teaching profession’.
Giving praise to teachers dealing with mental health issues and advising them to ‘take advantage’ of services like the Education Support Partnership helpline.
Understanding Teacher Burnout
While emphasis is rightly placed on students’ mental health, the mental well-being of those educating them should not be forgotten. The age-old adage of ‘you cannot pour from an empty cup’ is true in many fields, but especially in education. Teachers are at the front line, working tirelessly to ensure the academic and emotional growth of their students. But who looks out for the teachers?
Teacher burnout is a real and significant concern. Burnout can be described as a state of chronic physical and emotional exhaustion, often coupled with doubts about one’s competence and the value of one’s work. It’s a result of prolonged stress and workload, and the education sector isn’t immune to it.
Several factors contribute to teacher burnout:
- Extended Work Hours: Contrary to popular belief, a teacher’s day doesn’t end when the students go home. Lesson planning, grading, and extracurricular commitments often mean long hours, weekends, and even holidays spent working. Balancing these responsibilities is key; check out our post on teacher work-life balance for tips and insights..
- Emotional Labor: Teachers are often the first line of defence when it comes to noticing issues with students. This can range from learning disabilities to signs of abuse at home. This emotional labor can be draining, especially when the teacher feels ill-equipped to help or when systemic issues prevent them from doing so.
- Lack of Resources: From outdated textbooks to a shortage of teaching aides, the lack of resources can be frustrating and demotivating.
- External Pressures: Pressure from school boards, standardized testing requirements, and even parents can pile on the stress.
- Lack of Professional Development: Opportunities for growth and advancement can be limited in some educational settings. Feeling stuck or stagnant can lead to burnout.
- Societal Under appreciation: Sadly, the vital role that teachers play in shaping the future is sometimes under appreciated or undervalued, leading to feelings of insignificance.
It’s clear that supporting teacher mental health is not just an act of kindness; it’s a necessity for a thriving education system. Recognising and addressing teacher burnout can result in not only happier and healthier educators but also in a more conducive learning environment for students.
The renewed emphasis by the Department for Education on mental well-being showcases the profound importance of mental health in our schools. As resources expand for student mental health, it’s crucial that we shine an equally bright spotlight on teachers’ mental health. These educators, who stand at the forefront of our educational system, are pivotal in shaping the classroom environment and, by extension, student outcomes.
The concerning increase in mental health challenges faced by teachers in England calls for urgent and thoughtful action. True support goes beyond mere words of appreciation; it involves offering them practical resources and tools that directly address their mental well-being. While the contributions of various organizations and teaching unions are noteworthy, there remains a broad scope for more innovative and effective solutions.
Custom teacher planners emerge as a distinctive asset in this mission. Rather than just an organisational tool, they can serve as daily allies, offering emotional support, encouragement, and platforms for introspection and growth. Their adaptability ensures they are attuned to the diverse needs and challenges surrounding teachers’ mental health.
In our journey through the ever-evolving domain of education, it’s vital to remember that behind each successful student is a mentally healthy and supported teacher. As we prioritise students, let’s also commit to fortifying our educators with the necessary tools – not just for teaching, but for their holistic well-being. By focusing on teachers’ mental health, we’re building a more resilient, effective, and compassionate educational community for everyone.
Empower Your Mental Well-being with Our Custom Teacher Planner
Our custom teacher planners, are designed with the educator’s mental health at its core, is not just about tracking lessons and grading. It’s about creating a space for self-reflection, self-care, and growth amidst the demands of teaching.