Supporting the mental health of teachers

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Research from La Trobe University reveals that the cheap model of ‘partner support’ widely used by front-line healthcare professionals may be the solution to burnout teachers, which has left schools across the country unable to operate effectively.

Posted in Teachers and teachingthe study found that of the 40 teachers in the pilot program, all reported positive changes in their own mental health, a better workplace culture and an increased ability to cope in the classroom.

La Trobe University’s education co-ordinator, Dr Anne Southhall, said the need for mental health support structures for teachers was becoming clearer.

“We know that the pandemic is putting a lot of pressure on teachers, but even before that, two-thirds of teachers have experienced professional stress, and more than half have been identified as anxious,” said Dr. Southall.

“Teachers are burning and leaving the profession en masse, causing shortages in the metro and regional schools. There is an urgent need to create structures to support them – and this model may be critical.”

Dr Southhall said experience had shown that peer support in the form of “reflective circles” significantly improved teachers’ ability to adapt to classroom challenges with a culture of openness, flexibility and compassion that allowed them to find together. solutions to complex problems.

“The great thing about this model is that once the training has taken place, it’s completely self-sustaining – schools don’t have to hire a professional to run the program, and they can adapt the time and structure to suit their needs.” “Dr.,” Southhall said.

For three years in three Victorian regional schools, researchers tested a peer review model in which critical reflection in a small group setting was used to generate strategies and solutions to complex challenges that teachers experienced in the classroom, from destructive to useless. parents. .

Associate Professor Fiona Gardner of La Trobe Rural Health School said that systematic support structures, such as reflective circles, are a key pillar of related health professions such as social work and psychology, but the model is also suitable for educational environments.

“We know that social workers and psychologists who deal with incredibly complex, difficult and often traumatic circumstances need partner support to ensure that they can cope with the mental and emotional consequences this brings,” he said. Associate Professor Gardner.

“Teachers find that they now need to take on similar roles in supporting their students, and Reflective Circle’s educational model can provide them with space to develop a deeper understanding of their personal and professional interactions and encourage mutual support.

Jen Roberts, co-principal of St. Peter’s Primary School in Bendigo, said the model could make a huge difference to the well-being of teachers at the school.

“Teaching is a complex and stressful profession, and teachers are finding that their roles are changing more and more. Because one in seven students has mental health problems, teachers often have to provide mental health support, while there are no formal structures to protect their own emotional well-being, “said co-principal Mick Chackley.

Teachers in the study report that reflective circles generate significant mutual support between colleagues, help them see things differently, and build confidence and flexibility to better meet students’ needs.


The stress of teachers and principals is twice as high as that of the working public, which hinders the recovery of the pandemic


More info:
Fiona Gardner et al., Effective teacher support: a peer review model using reflective circles, Teachers and teaching (2022). DOI: 10.1080 / 13540602.2022.2062727

Provided by La Trobe University

Quote: Mental Health Support for Teachers (2022, 20 June), retrieved on 20 June 2022 from https://phys.org/news/2022-06-teachers-mental-health.html

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