Few professions have as many professionals with a diagnosed mental health disorder as teaching. Smiley (2020), a reporter for Occupational Health and Safety, reports, “In fact, a recent study from the UCL Institute of Education reports that one in every 20 teachers (or about five percent) suffer with a mental illness that has lasted, or is likely to last, more than a year”.
Educators are influencing the lives of our youth every day, but come home and suffer; too burnt out to deepen relationships with their own family.
Often, it is correlated to the trauma teachers witness in their students. It is possible to develop a mental health issue due to secondary exposure to trauma. We are so focused on lessening their burden that it becomes our own to bear.
Growing awareness of the plight of poor mental health in our teachers around the world has led to a boom of resources available that attempt to provide support to educators and lessen the hold that mental illness has on the profession.
As an educator myself, I have found many of these to be particularly helpful. We all have different preferences on how we receive our media, so I have included apps, online forums, websites, and books in the resource list compiled below. Enjoy!
Top Apps for Teachers
Calm offers educators access to mindfulness exercises, specifically breathing techniques and meditation exercises.
This app recently launched a campaign offering teachers free access to their guided meditations.
This is an evidence-based app designed to help you learn how to cope with feelings of anxiety and depression. Learn more about MoodMission here.
Online Forums for Support
Happy Teacher Revolution
This online support group aims to help educators around the world balance the demands of the job with their own personal happiness and wellbeing. They offer both online and in-person professional development based on the critical tenet that educators should not have to sacrifice their own well-being and happiness in order to perform well in the classroom.
Teaching with Mental Health in Mind
This is a support group like community on social media giant, Facebook, that encourages weekly check-ins and provides resources to anyone who works with youth around the world. You can check out their page here.
Kids Mental Health Lockdown Resources
This is a private Facebook support group sponsored by The Lily-Jo Project offering mental health support and resources for anyone who lives or works with kids on a daily basis. You can request to join this group here – I am a moderator and would love to have you in the group!
Online Websites/Newsletters for Educators
CARE (Cultivating Awareness and Resilience in Education) from The Garrison Institute
This website offers programs to help teachers develop the inner peace and resilience needed to flourish in educating our youth. We cannot give what we do not have. You can learn more about the CARE initiatives on the Garrison Institute website here.
Self-Reflection tool from CASEL (Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning)
The following is a self-evaluation tool for school professionals to use to assess their own strengths and weaknesses in social-emotional learning, thus enabling them to better build on social-emotional learning in the students they work with. Download this tool as a pdf document here.
What About You? Educator Resilience and Trauma-Informed Self Care
This is a video webinar by Center on Great Teachers and Leaders. This webinar promotes the importance of self-care in building resilience in ourselves and our students and responding to the trauma that we witness as educators on a daily basis. Check it out on YouTube here.
For Educators, Understood.org
A website aimed at providing resources to educators on how to handle various situations that may be encountered in or around the classroom environment. See their resources for educators here.
The Lily-Jo Project’s Monthly E-Newsletter, Recharge
This is a monthly newsletter provided by The Lily-Jo Project, and it’s packed with mental health inspiration, ideas, and practical classroom resources. To sign up for this newsletter, simply register for a free Bronze package on The Lily-Jo Project’s online learning platform here.
Best Books for Educators
- First Aid for Teacher Burnout: How You Can Find Peace and Success by Jenny Rankin (2016)
- The Happy Teacher’s Handbook: From Overwhelmed to Inspired- Helping Teachers Embrace Resiliency by Jen Molitor (2019)
- Overcoming Teacher Burnout in Early Childhood- Strategies for Change by Ellen Drollette (2019)
- See Me After Class: Advice for Teachers by Teachers by Roxanna Elden (2013)
In a 2015 survey (long before the pandemic hit and the pressures of reaching and teaching children virtually set in), nearly 73% of educators responded that they often felt “stressed” by their job.
Enter a pandemic, and that pressure and stress just multiplied.
If the issue of declining mental health in our educators and the stigma that teachers must sacrifice their own families and personal lives in order to be successful in the classroom is not addressed soon, this educator predicts that the growing problem of a teacher shortage will suddenly be much much larger.
Addressing the mental health of our teachers must be at the forefront of education issues, much like testing reform, data collection, and performance are.
Smiley, A. (2020). Why school wellness isn’t just for kids: Many teachers are stressed and depressed. Retrieved from https://ohsonline.com/articles/2020/02/07/why-school-wellness-isnt-just-for-kids-many-teachers-are-stressed-and-depressed.aspx
About the Author: Brandy Browne
Brandy Browne is an early childhood educator in the United States, as well as a family coach and blogger for UnStuck (www.unstucks.com), her family coaching service aimed at helping families develop positive habits and breaking the cycle of generational trauma and poverty.
Her education is in early and elementary education, and she also has a masters degree in parenting and child/adolescent development. Brandy is a wife to her high school sweetheart of fifteen years, and together they share three children, aged ten, seven, and five. In her free time, she enjoys reading, gardening, writing, and distance running.