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We are Engage• 4 Min read

21st May 2020

Managing Teachers Mental Health During The Pandemic

Mental Health Awareness Week has taken on a new importance since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic. Government lockdowns have left many people struggling with loneliness and anxiety – it’s completely normal to feel this way. There’s no guidebook for how anyone should or shouldn’t be feeling during these strange times.

With teachers at the forefront of Covid-related challenges, there are even more reasons than usual to make sure that your mental health is being properly managed.

How has Covid-19 affected teachers’ mental health?

During the pandemic, teacher mental health and wellbeing has come under constant strain. As well as heavy workloads, the pandemic has led to more difficult circumstances for teachers, both during in-person and virtual lessons. Many teachers have also had to balance caring for their own children alongside teaching duties.

As a result of increased pressures, more than a quarter (27%) of UK teachers needed to seek medical help for their mental and physical wellbeing between April 2020 and April 2021. Some 23% of teachers have taken medication to help them cope.

Tips to help manage teacher mental health

We all know that the vital job of a teacher can be overwhelming at times. But there are many steps you can take to make your load feel lighter. Here are some simple ways to improve your daily routine so that it nourishes your mental health, rather than compounding the issues affecting your mental wellbeing.

Everything has changed, but help and support is out there

Even if your mental health usually doesn’t pose an issue for you, it’s likely that the pandemic and subsequent changes to everyday life haven’t been easy to get used to. This worrying and high-stress environment with all of the new regulations has been the norm for a few months now and once the novelty of new routines and spending more time at home has worn off, it’s perfectly okay to feel that your mental health has taken a hit – there are plenty of places you can go for help and advice if lockdown (or any aspect of teaching life) is causing you to lose stress or dwell on worries.

Engage has produced some articles and content which we hope will be of help to all our teachers and colleagues, find them all over at our Coronavirus Hub

 

Practise self-care and don’t compare

As well as formal coaching and therapy sessions, there are lots of ways to manage positive mental health yourself. It’s vital to take time out, especially if you are working through the lockdown, for self-care and your own pursuits. It may seem on social media that everyone in the world is maximising lockdown to better themselves, their fitness, homeschool their children, work on their gardens or start writing a book, but the majority of people are simply getting through taking it day by day. 

There are some great ideas here on how to look after yourself during the pandemic

Talk to someone you trust about how you’re feeling

As with any manner of mental health issue, talking about teaching-related mental strain can help greatly. Of course, it may be beneficial if the person you speak to is a fellow teacher, so that they truly understand your circumstances and may even have been in a similar situation. At the very least, they’ll be able to relate to the pressures of the job.

You can also find mental health support for teachers on BBC Teach. The mental health teacher resources there include tips, practical advice and stories from fellow professionals. Listening to others’ experiences can often reassure you that your issues are both common and surmountable.

You should also remember that the pandemic has been a difficult time for everyone, so many others will also be accessing support for their mental wellbeing.

 

 

Schedule in some downtime

The need for downtime can’t be overestimated. As all teachers take their work home with them, it can be tempting to take too much on, whether it’s marking work or prepping for classes. The lines between work and home became even more blurred when virtual teaching and working from home became the norm.

You need to set time aside for relaxing and doing the things you enjoy – not just for yourself, but also so that you can be the best teacher possible. Stepping away from the job refreshes your mind and allows you to recharge. Then when you clock on again, you’ll feel rested and ready to put everything into the job.

Take care of your overall health and wellbeing

Just as important as finding time to relax is devoting time to take care of your general health. Staying fit and healthy whilst teaching can definitely be a challenge, particularly when you get home tired from an exhausting day, but it’s vital nonetheless.

Regular exercise not only gives you time to clear your mind, it helps you to combat stress, sleep better and feel more positive. Eating well can also lift your mood when compared to eating junk food and is, of course, an integral part of staying physically healthy.

In addition, techniques such as mindfulness and yoga can focus your thoughts on the present moment, rather than on the stresses of teaching.

How Engage can help

Engage Education has partnered with Education Support, a UK charity dedicated to improving the health and wellbeing of the education workforce. Education Support offers all teachers and support staff registered with Engage access to their 24/7 helpline and the Employee Assistance Programme, which features one-on-one counselling sessions and help and support with all aspects of your teaching career. If you find you’re struggling during lockdown, or as restrictions are lifted, our partners at the Education Support Partnership are on hand to help. From short-term financial aid to counselling, advice, or just a friendly chat, the Education Support Partnership was created to help teachers when they need it.

Are you worried about interviewing with schools virtually? Our in-house partnership and development team are available to guide you through the interview process. If the new-style remote interviews are worrying you, or if you have anxieties about interviewing, our team can coach you to success!

Finally, our top tips for managing teacher anxiety is online here, check it out for ideas from our team!

Education Support

If you’d like more information on how Education Support our teachers, check out the Employee Assistance Programme.

Find out more

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