How to improve the mental health and wellbeing of teachers By Helen Kirk-Brown, Director of Hays Education, South East
It is clear that teacher wellbeing needs to be enhanced for the sake of the teachers, their colleagues and, ultimately, the children. Funding is a major challenge, so what simple low-cost actions can your school take to enhance mental wellbeing? We’ve put together our top tips on how you can promote positive mental health to your teachers.
Encourage staff to share their stories
Whether it’s via an informal staff room chat, an agenda point on a staff meeting or encouraging staff to post blogs on your intranet, provide the means for your staff to share their stories. It will help an individual to not feel isolated, and to understand that other people have had similar experiences and come out the other end, be it a work-related or personal challenge they are facing.
There are many ways to promote mindfulness amongst our staff. You can share apps to download (many are free or offer a reduced subscription for teaching staff), run a yoga session, introduce mindfulness books into the staff room or school library, or invite a guest speaker in to talk to your staff?
Communication is key
Some schools have designed posters with ‘Top Tips for Wellbeing’ or with signposts to get help if needed, such as the Employee Assistance Programme, to drive awareness and help improve wellbeing. Consider how often you talk about mental health with staff, SLT or in Governors’ meetings and ensure it is a regular feature on the agenda.
A charitable focus
It is recognised that collectively raising money for a charity is beneficial for an individual’s mental health. Indeed, if you are doing a physical challenge, it will boost your physical health too! In our What Workers Want report, social responsibility is a key factor that people look for from their employers as it links to positive mental wellbeing, so get your staff involved in raising money for a charitable cause.
A staff charter
Do you have a staff charter? Staff charters encourage a positive work-life balance and take positive steps in addressing some of the underlying reasons teachers feel stressed. Some of the actions include:
- After-school meetings have a published finish time and it’s kept to
- A minimum of one evening per week where teachers don’t take work home
A school dog
Don’t laugh. Some universities and many private sector companies now have dogs at their places of work… again, it is proven that looking after a dog significantly boosts happiness levels. Some schools have introduced them already with great results so look to see if there are any near you that you could learn from. The kids will love it too!
To find out more, or to discuss your employment needs in this field, please contact your local consultant.