Mental Health Training For Teachers: How to Manage Stress & Burnout

stress teacher facing computer

Let’s face it – teachers are burned out. The pandemic has been rough on everybody, but apart from healthcare workers, teachers have been one of the most severely affected. Since the pandemic started in March 2020, an alarming number of K-12 teachers have reported exhaustion, stress, and burnout.

60% of teachers find their jobs frequently or always stressful. Only 12% report that they are very satisfied in their roles. A recent study even found that teaching may be the most stressful profession, with teachers reporting symptoms of depression at almost three times the rate of other adults.

And no wonder – navigating remote and hybrid classrooms, staffing shortages, and increased workloads is no mean feat. These and other stressors have made mental health training for teachers crucial. As an integral part of the learning environment, teachers can’t be running on empty. Thankfully, there are several approaches that school administrators can take to help teachers manage burnout and reduce attrition from the profession. In this article, we’re sharing five ways that school administrators can offer mental health support for teachers to transform burnout in education back into a thriving learning environment.

1.   Respect Your Teachers

One simple but effective way that school administrators can boost teachers’ morale and alleviate the effects of educator burnout is simply by showing them respect. In the past three years, teachers have had to navigate health and safety policies, implement new methods of instruction, handle policy changes, and adapt to shifting needs. In many of these changes, teachers have had little say. Involving them more directly in decision-making can help improve the mental health of teachers in the new normal.

Start by listening to their needs. Have empathy for the sheer amount of stress and exhaustion they are experiencing. Involve them in decisions, whether it’s buying new technology for the classroom or implementing a new policy. Showing them respect in these simple ways can effectively reduce teacher stress and burnout.

2.   Support Your Teachers

Another way school administrators can ease educator burnout is by supporting them. Teachers today are expected to maintain pre-pandemic academic standards – all while handling student disengagement, learning loss, mental health issues, complex familial issues, and increasingly dire societal issues that inevitably color the atmosphere of the classroom. Having to do this without support from the school administration can be an insurmountable challenge for teachers.

That’s why showing your support for them is an essential part of protecting your teachers’ mental health. This can look like backing them up in parent interactions or standing up for them when needed. You can also be an advocate for your teachers to show that you value the decisions they make. Ensuring your teachers’ mental health and wellness isn’t just beneficial for them – the effects will likely be felt by their students as well. When teachers feel supported, they in turn can support their students to succeed.

3.   Look for Signs of Teacher Burnout

The topic of burnout in education dominates the cultural conversation, with articles, books, and podcasts on the topic being published regularly. Often described as a state of chronic stress, burnout can lead to physical and emotional exhaustion, cynicism, detachment, and feelings of ineffectiveness and lack of accomplishment.

Being aware of the signs of burnout can help school administrators identify teachers at risk and intervene to provide support before it is too late.

Some Identifying Signs of Educator Burnout:

  • Increased irritability, impatience, or anger
  • Difficulty focusing, concentrating, or planning classroom activities and lessons
  • Chronic fatigue and exhaustion
  • Anxiety and/or depression
  • Increased isolation and detachment from others

By constantly keeping a lookout for these signs, school administrators play an important role in addressing the problem before it gets out of hand. You can provide mental health support for teachers to ensure that they are well-equipped to combat burnout and thrive in their role as educators.

4.   Implement Professional Development Focused on Teachers’ Mental Health

Professional development that prioritizes teachers’ mental health is another way to help them manage stress and burnout. One of the most powerful stress reducers is social connection. By building connections and supportive relationships with their co-workers and school administrators, teachers will feel better supported to do their jobs.

This can look like getting teachers away from their computers during professional development sessions. Prioritize activities that foster collaboration with their colleagues in team-building activities. During these times, encourage teachers to disconnect and avoid virtual meetings or emails.

Even outside of professional development training, encourage your teachers to build a sense of community and foster deeper relationships with each other. The teachers’ lounge can be the ideal place for this. Doctors’ lounges have been used to overcome burnout in the medical profession. School administrators can take a leaf from their book and apply the same principles to teachers’ lounges too – making them welcoming spaces for teachers to recharge and reconnect with their colleagues and alleviate teacher exhaustion.

5.   Provide Self-Care Support

Teachers perform a crucial service to society but even they can’t work effectively if they’re running on fumes. That’s why self-care for teachers is essential. However, many teachers find it a challenge to make time in their busy schedules for nature walks or long baths despite desperately needing them. Indeed, they are oftentimes so focused on their students that they forget to think about themselves. As a school administrator, you can help. Apart from a supportive and nurturing work environment, you can provide teachers with support in caring for themselves.

Integrate self-care elements into spaces for teachers and find ways to make educators pause and engage in self-care. Try bringing massage therapy in during staff meetings. Provide teachers with resources for school supplies. Collaborate with parent organizations to provide food and refreshments to educators who often don’t even have time to stop for lunch. Consistently demonstrate appreciation for your teachers.

You can also support teachers by providing professional assistance and helpful resources. Our course on how to manage teacher stress and burnout is a handy resource that equips teachers with the tools to build resiliency and sustain themselves through stressful times. We also offer a free self-care course available for all staff that has positively benefited school districts.

Our Classrooms, Our Youth, Our Future

The future of our youth – and our country – lies in the hands of our teachers. When teachers are happy and fulfilled, it has a direct impact on the future generation of leaders, thinkers, and change-makers. It all begins in the classroom, by caring for our teachers’ mental health.

Together, we can build school communities that allow teachers, staff, and students to flourish.  Find out more about our course on how teachers can manage stress and burnout. We offer discounts for bulk purchases for your school or district too! Get in touch to find out more.

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