Teaching is a challenging, sometimes stressful profession. As it has been said before mental health and wellbeing in teaching should be given considerable attention - especially these days when teachers are dealing with ever more complex issues such as bullying or cyberbullying amongst students, the need to teach about mental health problems including anxiety and depression which affect young people at all stages of their education from KS One through post-16 studies. In fact, research shows that teacher well-being impacts student performance directly.
Thus, it is very important that teachers learn how to identify and understand mental health problems when they occur in their students. The first step could be learning the warning signs of psychological issues such as anxiety or depression and teaching about them so other young people can recognise problems in themselves or others: this will help prevent mental illness from developing further. Also, talking with teenagers about these things could give them a sense of control over their own lives which would reduce stress levels too!
How to promote mental health and wellbeing at school
As we discussed before there are steps schools and colleges should take to improve teacher well-being including implementing initiatives like yoga classes for stressed-out staff members who feel overwhelmed by work demands. In addition, school counselling services can benefit both current teachers struggling with personal issues plus new recruits keen to determine their teaching style and how to manage the classroom.
The mental health of teachers has been recognised as being a significant issue by government officials including Nicky Morgan, Secretary for Education in England who have recently pledged £200 million to improve services supporting both pupils and staff members. In addition, the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers (NASUWT) lobbied successfully for new laws requiring better support from employers while academics at Liverpool University have proposed that all schools should review procedures regularly with regards to pupil safety plus encourage them not be afraid if they require help or advice about any issues which could impact on their wellbeing.
The Teacher Support Network website offers a wealth of information helping school leaders prevent mental illness among staff members through proper care planning systems, improving communication opportunities with staff members and students, offering professional development courses on mental health education for teachers plus school leaders.
The Mental Health Foundation has also produced an excellent report “Mind the gap” which make five recommendations to improve wellbeing in schools including:
- reviewing policies around pupil welfare;
- providing strong leadership by promoting good mental health among all pupils as well as staff members;
- training teaching professionals about how best to handle issues related to mental illness within their classrooms.
Schools play a vital role in Children's wellbeing
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has produced guidance around promoting mental health at all levels, which is designed specifically with teachers' concerns around student mental health and wellbeing.
Schools may use a variety of methods to promote student health, including:
- providing nutritious school meals;
- promoting physical activities and exercise during the day;
- Ensure students have access to needed health, mental health, and social services;
- ensuring management and leadership teams take responsibility for their own emotional welfare;
- developing an understanding about how stress affects individuals so they are able to identify signs early on;
- reviewing policies concerning workloads, appraisal systems etc.
Many schools also offer counselling services to students in need of extra support.
Here's how you can look after your own mental health at school or college:
- learn about mental health and wellbeing, including signs of stress or distress;
- look after your physical well being - eat a healthy diet, have enough sleep and exercise regularly to promote clear thinking;
- develop strong relationships with teachers/college staff so you can talk through problems as they arise. This will also help build resilience which is the capacity to cope with different situations in life.;
- receive support from student counselling services if needed. These are often confidential – it's important to remember that no one has the right to judge you for what makes you feel distressed.;
Mental health and wellbeing are extremely important for everyone, not just students. Teachers should take care to look after themselves too! It is helpful to regularly receive support from a colleague, family relative or friend who understands what you do - they will be able to offer great insight into your concerns.
Remember: there is light at the end of every tunnel! It may seem difficult now but things change quickly. If something feels overwhelming try writing down a plan of how you might deal with it – this can help keep things in perspective.
For more information, read our guide on how to establish positive mental health strategies for children with special educational needs.