SEL for adults: Schools add programs to support teachers' mental health
- Mindfulness-based intervention programs designed for teachers, not students, are an example of growing efforts to support educators' social and emotional well-being — especially among those who work with children experiencing trauma or living in high-poverty areas, The 74 reports.
- CARE for Teachers, for example, developed by a researcher at the University of Virginia, has been used in about 200 schools and focuses on helping teachers learn to identify stress and emotions that occur during the school day and address them through practices such as breath awareness, stretching and showing compassion toward students.
- A recent study on the model shows that it helped teachers better regulate their emotions and that when teachers had less “psychological distress,” they were able to provide more emotional support to students, as measured by a widely used assessment of classroom quality.
One of an administrator’s primary responsibilities is supporting the school’s staff members so that they can be effective in the classroom. Stress and signs of depression in teachers can result in lower achievement for students, one study found.
Last month, the American Federation of Teachers and the grass-roots Badass Teachers Association released a survey in which 58% of teachers said their mental health was “not good” for at least seven days with a 30-day period. The issue of teachers feeling overwhelmed by their profession is also not confined to the U.S. In a recent survey of more than 4,900 teachers in the United Kingdom, conducted by a teachers union, one in 10 teachers said they are taking antidepressants to deal with stress from work. Others admitted using alcohol, medication and other drugs to cope.
School leaders can make sure that if they are implementing school climate initiatives that they are considering teachers’ needs as well as those of students. Surveys of teachers are one way to determine what parts of their job might be causing the most stress so administrators can look for solutions. But professional development can also include an emphasis on healthy ways to handle stress and emotions and on making sure teachers feel they have a colleague to talk to so they don’t feel alone. Attention to these issues could result in less teacher absenteeism and higher teacher retention.
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