Promoting positive mental health and wellbeing in teachers

Promoting positive mental health and wellbeing in teachers By Helen Kirk-Brown, Director of Hays Education, South East 
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.
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, toHappy teacher promoting positive mental health & wellbeing at her school 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!

 

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