Study suggests teachers suffer poor mental health

Mental health image of brain
Image: iStock

In March, I wrote about high rates of bullying, harassment and violence principals face. In the post, I speculated that teachers were being treated badly at a similar rate.

That’s  not the only issue that many teachers face.

According to the SBS, a study conducted by Associate Professor of Psychology of Bond University, Peta Stapleton suggests that teachers suffer higher rates of anxiety and depression than the general population.

166 teachers took part in the study.

Of those studied, 18% of respondents met the criteria for a moderate or major depression diagnosis. Over half (62%), met the criteria for moderate anxiety. 19.75% fitted the criteria for severe anxiety.

 

What is causing this?

The causes of mental illness can be complicated. Genetics, brain chemistry, personality traits and trauma can all increase one’s vulnerability to mental disorders.

Major stress, conflict with staff and lack of work  – reward balance were major contributors to mental decline of participants.

The Feed did a segment exposing struggles teachers have dealing with students with learning and behavioural problems. Not only were they frequently exposed to aggressive outbursts, time was taken from other students. This showed a lack of professional support in dealing with children with learning or behavioural disorders.

Importance of specialised support staff

This is why teacher’s aides and specialised staff are so important. Schools need staff that know how to calm down children with ADHD or severe Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).

Teacher’s aides can often offer one – on – one support for children who need extra help.

Attitudes need to change

I expressed in the post linked above that I think the way teachers are snowed under by bureaucratic red tape and are vilified by the media is appalling.

I can’t believe the number of times I’ve heard teachers being accused of ‘indoctrinating’, or worse  ‘grooming’ students in the media. Frankly, I find it disgusting. Even if you don’t 100% agree with  the information children have been given, I think that sort of inflammatory language is uncalled for.

Teachers don’t ‘groom’ children, (most don’t anyway). They inform, challenge and inspire students. They equip them with knowledge and skills to enter and hopefully thrive in the world.

Teachers need to be able to assist all students achieve their full potential.

Most importantly, teachers, along with all professionals, should be able to work in a physically and mentally healthy environment. No one should have to endure physical and verbal abuse, nor should they have to feel under valued or bullied bt other staff.

 

Let an education revolution begin. No, not more theories, frameworks or paperwork. Not more tests that just stress everyone out. Let’s start an education revolution of nurture; for both students and staff.

Let’s start an expectation that teachers, principals and other staff will not have to put up with threats, intimidation and violence from anybody.

Let’s start treating teachers like human beings, They need care, rest and recognition, just like the rest of us. They deserve a much better work – reward balance than what they are getting.

And lastly, get off their backs. Most are trying to do the right thing by their students, regardless of how many students get Band Sixes in NAPLAN (National Assessment  Program for Literacy and Numeracy) and other tests/ exams.

 

 

Anyone who is suffering from any mental health issues/ concerns can call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or Beyond Blue on 1300 224 636.

 

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