Stress among teachers is a major problem that affects educators across all levels of education, from kindergarten to college. It arises due to various factors related to the demands and difficulties of the teaching profession. To enhance the well-being of educators and improve the quality of education, it is essential to comprehend the reasons, effects, and ways to alleviate teacher stress.
Teachers' mental health and well-being: The importance of mental health awareness among educators.
What are some common stressors you face as a teacher, and how do you cope with them?
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What are some common stressors you face as a teacher, and how do you cope with them?2023/09/20 12:07 SAST
Based on our programming experience and research within many African schools context, teachers often grapple with challenges such as large class sizes, limited resources, administrative burdens, diverse student backgrounds, limited professional development opportunities, socioeconomic issues, lack of recognition, infrastructure problems, language barriers, and parental involvement difficulties.
We have realized that, to cope, they employ strategies like inclusive teaching methods, collaboration with peers, self-directed learning, community engagement, and advocacy for better working conditions. There are some interesting case studies where schools deliberately set up dialogues or interactive meetings meant to increase the involvement of community members in day to day running of schools.
Therefore, building a supportive teacher community and maintaining a positive outlook on the part of the teacher, are crucial aspects of their resilience in addressing these stressors.
Based on the experience from my mother who is a teacher, i have observed that the major stress that she faces are the number of classes they are assigned per teacher. This leads to more marking loads with the newly introduced CALA as part of the curriculum which has to spillover to their personal time after work because they need to be up to date for the next class sessions with markings completed. So a strategy she usually takes is to use the after school hours during sporting activities to finish the workload so that she doesnt carry it at home. Another stressing isssue, is the digitalization of dialogues between teachers, parents and students through online platforms. Teachers are now forced to engage in online dialogues after work hours to respond to different enquiries and queries presented to them hence interfering with their personal life. An approach to suggest to tackle this challenge would be to have physical dialogues within the school premises and not after work hours so that the personal lives of teachers can be respected to promote work life balance and avoid stresses.
Sometimes global crisis is one of the major factor that exacerbate teachers problem; At the same time education is the sensitive sector that usually bears the burden from the impacts of global crisis for example; In the time of COVID-19 some schools in Malawi (Southern Africa) were turned into isolation Centre's while about 3 months ago, Cyclone Freddy that washed a lot of schools and teaching materials left the educators with big stress of no shelter and no education resources.
Also droughts otherwise can lead to impaired mental health and stress both educators and students. Increased frequency of disasters with climate change can lead to posttraumatic stress disorder, adjustment disorder and depression. Whilst Changes in climate and global warming may require population to migrate, which can lead to acculturation stress and not easy to adapt and regenerate the teaching passion for the excellent results.
I suggest global leaders, governments, policy makers and organizations should cooperate towards sustainable education shift and transformation for a more resilience education. Investing in underprivileged communities to unlock talents and facilitate e-learning and or cloud data Centre's from primary to college would also be the solution while providing psychosocial services to the affected teachers.
Thank you for such a beautiful analysis of the teaching context in Africa. You raise many critical points but just to add on the last point about the need for an integrated approach to sustainable quality education: this should start from grassroots levels involving all stakeholders from the teachers themselves to the community at large. In many cases you would find that teachers and students are not included in the day to day planning and organization of interventions that are meant to improve their schools and in this case school mental health initiatives yet they are the ones who have the lived experiences. Thus, for us to really tailor effective interventions that can positively impact on our teaching staff there is a need to listen and take into account teacher’s lives experiences so that when interventions and policies are being made they echo the voices and the needs of the students and the teaching staff.
I have shared a link to a blog with some of the helpful materials and @Letswalo sorry to ambush you like this but l actually suggest we look into having such a similar blog that has self care tools and resources for teachers from our African context, l do be happy to assist with that and anyone else willing to contribute to this important tool please express your interest .
Thank you @Ntokozo for your great idea, I would appreciate it if you could send the blog to me so I can upload it to the group and post it on the forum.
Thank you so much for the ideas. With that in mind, what suggestions would you give us for recognizing if a fellow colleague/teacher is suffering from mental illness?
I've been wanting to talk about my mental health for a while now, and I think it's crucial to open up about it. Lately, I've been struggling with my anxiety. It's something I've dealt with for years, but it seems like it's been particularly overwhelming lately. I've been feeling constantly on edge, and even the smallest tasks can feel like huge challenges. It's hard for me to focus, and I often find myself getting caught in negative thought patterns.
I've tried various coping strategies, like deep breathing exercises and mindfulness, which have helped to some extent. I've also reached out to a therapist, and I've started talking to a few close friends about what I'm going through. It's not easy, but it's a step in the right direction.
I'm sharing this because I believe that talking about mental health is essential. It's not a sign of weakness, and it's something many of us go through at different points in our lives. I'm trying to be more compassionate toward myself and seeking professional help, which is a big part of my journey.
If you're going through something similar, I encourage you to reach out to someone you trust or a mental health professional. You don't have to go through it alone, and there is support available. Let's break the stigma surrounding mental health and start having more open and understanding conversations about it.
Certainly there are some suggestions that l can give. I would advise a teacher to recognize signs of mental illness in a colleague by observing changes in behavior, mood, or work performance.
But remember these can only thrive when there is open communication and discussions on well-being. Taking a note on social withdrawal, physical health changes, emotional expressions, and absenteeism are key indicators. Be mindful of any significant life stressors and take peer concerns seriously.
Once you suspect that there is something like that going on you can try to offer empathetic listening, and provide information about available mental health resources.
If a serious issue is suspected, gently suggest consulting a mental health professional. Remember approach the situation with sensitivity and prioritize the colleague's well-being.
Mandisa thank you very much for opening up, you are right!. Constantly talking about our struggles can help other people realize that they are not alone, in-fact once you start talking about it you realize that many other people are going through a lot and in sharing about our struggles we get to be exposed to a whole community of people who are willing to listen to us and share their coping mechanisms.
Thank you very much for sharing!