How Schools Are Supporting Teachers’ Mental Health

Heading into a new school year, districts are coming up with innovative ways to boost teacher mental health.

By Jessica Marie Baumgartner | Published

National Teacher Unions Have Lost 200,000 Members

teacher mental health

Teacher burnout is a serious issue. From pandemic stress to the elevated support needs of students during the youth mental health crisis, teacher mental health is suffering. In order to combat this, some districts are offering workshops and other group activities to keep school staff balanced

These issues are not resolving themselves as schools return to normal conditions, and so some districts are supporting teachers with increased mental health care. In New Hampshire, one district held a two-day workshop on “rhythm making” and the power of movement. Other areas are providing yoga sessions and training in deep breathing exercises and meditation to support teacher mental health. 

Movement is a main focus of improving teacher mental health. During lockdowns, virtual learning left a lot of educators sitting in front of a computer screen for long periods of time. This not only strained the eyes and brain but also imbalanced the body with inactivity. Getting up and staying active has been known to reduce stress. It releases energy and helps improve mental states. Taking time to laugh and be social with other teachers has also been known to improve mental health. Being that everyone was instructed to isolate for long periods of time over the course of the past two years, social connections are not as strong as they were before the pandemic, but they’re more important than ever. Social bonds between educators helps them to understand each and offer solutions to pressing issues. 

It is easier to enjoy a healthy perspective of working environments — even in stressful situations — when strong relationships and support are offered. By providing group activities to improve teacher mental health, the schools initiating these events aren’t just instilling stress-reducing techniques, they’re reintroducing educators to the friendships and staff bonds they shared before lockdowns isolated them. If successful, these programs could also be expanded and offered to students who have also struggled with elevated rates of mental illness. 

Caring for dozens of children at a time is difficult work. Add in the complex difficulties of the modern era and teacher mental health is struggling. Interest in the profession is down, and so is respect and healthy parent/teacher partnerships. In addition, teachers have experienced unprecedented challenges throughout the pandemic and are more pressured than ever to play party politics even in the classroom. Schools have been thrust into the midst of uncertainty and this has led to serious teacher mental health issues. 

Across the nation teachers are displaying mental health difficulties at record rates. The University of Delaware School of Education Teacher Emotions, Characteristics, & Health Lab found that elementary school teachers are experiencing anxiety, depression, and emotional exhaustion at an increase of between 100% and 400% more than pre-pandemic levels. In addition, a coalition of New Orleans mental health organizations found that educators who worked throughout the pandemic experienced higher rates of anxiety, depression, and PTSD, while a Rand Corporation survey also revealed that job-related stress among teachers and principals has doubled. 

teacher mental health

Teacher mental health affects students, school staff members, and entire communities. In order to ensure that districts are providing the best education possible, those teaching classes must find healthy methods for coping with stress in order to reduce burnout. Instead of expecting teachers to battle their struggles alone, many schools are finding the benefits of hosting group activities to boost mental health while providing long-term self-care tips. This lends hope to the future of teaching and those who support the profession.