How is Teacher Stress Affecting Our Economy?
Working in the stressful environment of the school system is an emotionally charged challenge that might affect the emotional stability of teaching, support, and administrative staff. A recent University of British Columbia study showed how teacher stress adversely affected the mental health and learning experiences of elementary students. The quality of education might be threatened through long-term absenteeism or, even worse, presentism (being their physically but not intellectually and emotionally).
Educators must play multiple roles in their day-to-day work with children, colleagues, administrators and parents. They are expected to be teachers and many other roles they are not trained for such as mental health counsellors, arbitrators, police officers or distributers of food. As a result, teaching is now considered as a high stress profession.
According to Mental Health Commission of Canada, in Ontario, a staggering 93.3% of teachers feel that their training did not sufficiently prepare them to deal with mental health issues of their students. Additionally, 13% of teachers report being stressed “all the time” in comparison to 7% of the general public. Many reports are showing that up to 50% of new teachers leave in the first 5 years leaving a void in the system. Professionals leave their jobs prematurely in order to preserve their own health.
Unfortunately, many schools, school boards and districts see burnout as a personal problem to be addressed by the individual teacher. It needs to be understood that burnout is a system issue, and addressing it is the shared responsibility of both the individuals and school systems.
Professional exhaustion and burnout adversely impacts teaching performance, and result in decreased quality of education and nurturing of our students. This situation hurts students and teachers alike, and we need to fix it
On the individual level, burnout can lead to broken relationships, alcoholism and suicide.
Economic Need for Action
Mental Health & Economics
Every year, the World Economic Forum releases its Global Competitiveness Report on the state of the world’s economies. It looks at several factors when rating countries’ economies and competitiveness. A significant portion of this analysis is based on health and educational systems. Neither Canada or the US made the top 10 list. I believe that this is an indicator that we need to address the stresses and mental health issues in our school system as a systemic problem and start providing the support for our education workers or we will fall further behind. We need to act now.
I would love to see your suggestions on how to beat teacher stress in the comment box below.