Teachers, This One's For You - Mental Health Awareness Week 2021
Mental health is a topic that people are talking about more in recent years. Especially during the pandemic, student mental health has been a hot topic, but we feel teachers are often overlooked. The teachers are the ones that are expected to support the students, but how are you supposed to do that while you're struggling with your own mental health? If you are one of these teachers, you are not alone.
Did you know that:
- 20% of teachers have regular panic attacks?*
- 56% of teachers experience insomnia or difficulty sleeping?*
- Since the start of the pandemic, 48% of teachers have indicated that their mental health has declined?**
That means that if you're a teacher, it's likely that half of your colleagues are struggling with their mental health and 1 in 5 of your colleagues has significant mental health issues. We need to talk about this, because you need to take care of yourself before you can better support others.
What Can I Do For Myself?
If you are currently struggling with your mental health, know that you don't have to go through it by yourself. Open up a conversation with a colleague or a friend and talk through it together. If someone is aware of your situation they might be able to help lighten the load, either emotionally or your literal workload. If you don't feel comfortable talking to a personal connection, there are lines that you can call where professionals can help you through difficult moments.
There are also some daily things you can do to improve your mental health. They may seem small, and we aren't implying these will solve all your problems, but they can make a significant difference.***
- Take regular breaks - It's difficult as a teacher to take breaks, especially in the times you're standing in front of a classroom. But try to take micro-breaks in between classes, in your lunch break, or after school while you're preparing material, to really focus on yourself. It's been proven that taking small breaks improves your performance throughout the day, and reduces the need for a long recovery at the end of your day.
- Reconnect with nature - ‘Nature' is the theme of Mental Health Awareness Week this year, and for good reason. During the pandemic, one of our top coping strategies was going for regular walks, and 45% of people indicated that being around green significantly improved their mental health. So go to that park you've been meaning to go to for ages, pick up that daily walk habit again, and get outside.
- Write it out - Write out your feelings in a journal or simply in a word document. Often, writing your thoughts down will help you process your thoughts better, and that will help you determine what thoughts are rational, and which are emotional. Then, you can decide which ones you want to act on.
These are just some simple tips to get started. The Mental Health Foundation has written a full guide for teachers' mental health that you might find helpful.
What Can I Do For Other Teachers?
You might not be struggling with your mental health, but you know this is an issue for others. So what can you do to help?
- Spread awareness - The first step to a better world, is a better understanding for each other. Mental health has been stigmatized for years, the conversation is now starting to open up, but there's still a long way to go. It starts with simply being aware of the problem, so talk to your colleagues about it in the teachers lounge, but also tell your non-education friends and family members. Everyone knows an educator, and being aware of general mental health issues in education will help your friends understand a fellow educator better.
- Donate to a mental health charity - If you can spare the money, a good cause to donate to are mental health charities who help spread awareness and offer services to people who are struggling.
- Make yourself available to talk and listen - If you're an educator, it's likely that you have colleagues who are struggling but aren't talking about it. Make it clear that you are available to talk, as this might give someone the encouragement they need to start opening up. So let your colleagues know by directly talking to them, or organise a general mental health session for colleagues so they know you're aware of the situation and are willing to help.
We hope you have learned something while reading this blog, and if you have, please spread it around to your network using the hashtag #timeforyou. As we said before, awareness is the first step.
If you'd like any other inspiration or have any questions you can reach out to the Mangahigh Team via firstname.lastname@example.org.
*** If you are struggling with severe mental illness, please get professional help. Find out how to get professional help in the UK here.