Teachers are in the middle of what experts are calling a mental health emergency. Often, we make teachers themselves shoulder the entire burden of this. For example, we might tell teachers to simply practice self-care. 


Although self-care is a great start, it isn’t enough. And district leaders and administrators also have a role to play to improve their teachers’ mental health and well-being. Here are some steps that your district can take to support teacher mental health.


Do Teachers Have Good Mental Health in 2023?

We all suffered in terms of our mental health during the pandemic, and reports show that teacher mental health took a bigger hit than most. But 3 years into the pandemic, have things gotten better?


Unfortunately not. A 2022 Rand survey showed that the burnout gap between teachers and people in other professions has only gotten wider since 2020. Almost 60% of K-12 teachers reported feeling burnt out in this survey, which was the highest level of burnout in any profession. 


The report also showed that almost a third of all teachers reported symptoms of depression, in comparison to approximately 8% of the general population. In another study, teachers were found to be 40% more likely to experience symptoms of anxiety than healthcare workers.


Rates of burnout and depression are even higher among teachers of color, who are also more likely to experience racial discrimination.


The high levels of stress that teachers are forced to deal with on a daily basis have real-life consequences for school districts and their students. Over 300,000 teachers left the profession between 2020 and 2022, and over half of all teachers now say that they will likely quit their jobs in the near future.


The reasons behind the teacher mental health crisis are multifold, and include:

  • Low pay and long hours
  • Having to take on additional work during the pandemic
  • Worries about gun violence
  • Keeping up with state testing requirements
  • Poor preparation or training
  • Little to no mental health access (35% of educators reported having no employer-provided mental health support)

When teachers’ mental health suffers, student outcomes suffer as well. Teachers have had enough, and are leaving the profession in what many are calling a mass exodus. When there aren’t enough teachers, class sizes get bigger. Kids don’t get the individualized attention they need, which can have an effect on both academic performance as well as emotional development.


What School Districts Can Do to Support Teacher Mental Health

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Teacher self-care is often touted as the solution to the teacher mental health crisis. But the truth is that self-care only goes so far. School districts can also implement important changes to support their teachers and care for their mental health.


Here are some changes to consider.


Professional development

One stressor that teachers often say contributes to their stress is being ill-prepared to handle classroom situations. Without proper training and ongoing professional development, teachers will have to confront situations that they aren’t trained to deal with. With district-provided training, you can ensure that all teachers have the tools to effectively manage difficult situations that can arise in the classroom.


Employer-provided mental health care

Reports have found that over a third of educators either don’t receive mental health benefits from their employers or don’t know whether they receive them or not. This is a critical problem; if districts want their teachers to take care of their mental health, then we need to make it as easy as possible for them to do so. 


Look into mental health solutions that you can provide for your teachers. If your district-provided health care insurance already includes mental health benefits, make sure that teachers are aware of them and know how to access them.


Support groups

You can also consider getting a local mental health professional’s help in setting up support groups for your teachers. Sometimes, it’s best for teachers to talk in a safe environment with others who know exactly what they’re going through. If you know of other support groups for teachers in your local area (for example, at a local mental health clinic), then you can consider sponsoring teachers to attend.

Time off

One of the biggest causes of the teacher mental health crisis is the long hours they work. As much as possible, try to organize your teachers’ time-off and vacation policy in a way that serves them. For example, you might encourage them to take a certain amount of time off to take care of their mental health. Make sure that taking time off isn’t something that gets punished.


Calm Classroom Supports Teachers’ Mental Health

Although mindfulness isn’t a magic pill solution for the teacher mental health crisis, research shows that it does help. Over 80% of the teachers who have participated in Calm Classroom say that they’re less stressed and anxious, more physically relaxed, and more aware of their thoughts and emotions.


Ready to sign your district up? Get in touch with us to learn more about training options.


Get in touch with Calm Classroom