What Are We Doing to Help Staff Mental Health in Schools?

Working in schools can be challenging for teachers, support staff and senior leadership. Regardless of your role you may find yourself working long hours with limited resource and the responsibility of supporting pupils both academically and emotionally can be very overwhelming. 

Today marks World Mental Health Day, it’s a great opportunity for us to explore ways to help improve the emotional wellbeing of our staff and teachers. When we are caring for the mental health of others, it is easy to forget our own especially when there are high demands accompanied by poor work-life balance. Addressing the wellbeing of school staff is fundamental, every school should be making steps to nurture their workforce through various ways.

Our educators wear many different hats, they take on several roles and balance a variety of professions whilst providing care and support to their students. Knowing what hat to wear at any point of the day can be tough and mentally draining. The Education Support Partnership is a charity who specifically work with educators, championing their health and wellbeing. If you haven’t already made plans for World Mental Health Day then why not start now? Hop on to their website and download a wide variety of resources for your school staff. Hold a wellbeing breakfast briefing for all staff and open a discussion of mental wellbeing. 

Case Study 

Tapton School, Sheffield 

Tapton School in Sheffield have made significant changes to form a whole school approach to mental health and wellbeing. The Assistant Headteacher at this school believes that school staff can only deliver great lessons If they are in good mental health. Here are some examples of practical ways the school have achieved balance for their staff. 

• Reporting requirements and departmental meetings have been reduced. 

• The school have created an email policy where the server is switched off between 7pm and 6am Monday to Friday and at weekends. Cutting down on emails has helped staff to manage their time better so they are more relaxed and prepared for school. 

• A staff wellbeing and happiness group was created where staff meet for coffee and cake or take a break for circuit training.

• Staff were asked to share a photo and brief sentence explaining how they look after their mental wellbeing. These are displayed in the school corridor for staff and students to see. 

• The school has provided an opportunity to upskill staff in supporting student mental health and wellbeing. 

• The school has a mental health and wellbeing and resilience worker who offers confidential drop-in sessions for students and staff feeling overwhelmed. 

Tapton school is inspiring and innovative in their whole-school approach to mental wellbeing, they have applied practical changes reducing staff stress and workload. The Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families developed a research study in 2018 which explores school staff and their mental wellbeing. The findings of this study show that 62% of staff felt stressed or unhappy at work over the last 2 weeks due to workload and work-life balance. Additionally, 42% stated that it was administrative tasks which made them unhappy and stressed. Increasing the understanding of mental health and introducing policies within schools needs to be prioritised. We can implement some small changes in schools, why not start with the following?  

• Protected breaks where staff can eat without being interrupted 

• Cake and tea briefing 

• School wellbeing policy 

• Using assessment trackers which print reports and save time 

If your school is doing anything in particular for World Mental Health Day we would love to hear from you on our Kent-Teach Facebook Teachers Community forum . To find out ways to improve your school wellbeing why not try 9 practical ways to improve teacher wellbeing

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