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Mental health and wellbeing of teachers

By Helen Kirk-Brown, Director of Hays Education, South East

This Mental Health Awareness Week (13-19 May) we look at how schools can promote good practice and support the wellbeing of teachers. The Teacher Wellbeing Index 2018, a report generated by the Educational Support Partnership, notes that 67% of education professionals describe themselves as stressed and 31% have experienced a mental health issue in the past academic year. Worryingly, 57% of all education professionals have considered leaving the sector over the past two years as a result of health pressures.

It is clear that teacher wellbeing needs to be enhanced for the sake of the teachers, their colleagues and, ultimately, the children. Funding is a major challenge, so what simple low-cost actions can your school take to enhance mental wellbeing? We’ve put together our top tips on how you can promote positive mental health to your teachers.

1. Encourage staff to share their stories

Whether it’s via an informal staff room chat, an agenda point on a staff meeting or encouraging staff to post blogs on your intranet. It will help an individual not to not feel isolated – to understand that other people have had similar experiences and come out the other end. Be it a work-related or personal challenge they are facing.

2. Promote mindfulness

You can promote apps to download (many are free or offer a reduced subscription for teaching staff) or run a yoga session. It is proven that mindfulness helps. You could introduce mindfulness books into the staff room or school library. Is there a guest speaker you could invite in to talk to your staff? Some schools have Mindfulness Gurus.

3. Communication is key

Some schools have designed posters with Top Tips for Wellbeing or with signposts to get help if needed, such as the Employee Assistance Programme, to drive awareness and help. How often do you talk about it with staff, SLT or in Governors’ meetings?

4. A charitable focus

With the funding challenges within the sector, charity has to start at home, however, it is recognised that collectively raising money for a charity is beneficial for an individual’s mental health. Indeed, if you are doing a physical challenge, it will boost your physical health too! In our recent What Workers Want report, social responsibility is a key factor that people look for from their employers as it links to positive mental wellbeing.

5. A staff charter

Do you have a staff charter? Staff charters encourage a positive work-life balance and take positive steps in addressing some of the underlining reasons teachers feel stressed. Some of the actions include:

  • After school meetings have a published finish time and it’s kept to
  • A minimum of one evening per week where teachers don’t take work home

6. A school dog

Don’t laugh. Some universities and many private sector companies now have dogs at their places of work… again, it is proven that looking after a dog significantly boosts happiness levels. Some schools have introduced them already with great results so look to see if there are any near you that you could learn from. The kids will love it!

To find out more, or to discuss your employment needs in this field, please contact your local consultant.

About this author

Helen has been with Hays since 1999 and has focused on the public sector for the majority of this time. Since 2010, Helen has run our Education business in the South East. Our expert Consultants specialise in recruiting for Early Years, Primary, Secondary, SEN, Further Education and Leadership staff on a daily supply, long term supply or permanent basis. Her extensive experience is invaluable to ensuring schools, colleges, nurseries, academies and MATs have access to the best possible candidates.

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