Mental Health in the Staffroom

Maybe you’ve seen this intro before?
You are reading a different post.
Read on and you’ll understand.

Here’s a snippet from casual conversations playing out in school hallways everywhere.
Pick the one’s you’ve used or heard before.

“How are you? How’s it going? What’s up? How’s it?”

“Good. Great. All good here. Meh. No problems. Busy. So busy. Not too bad. OK. Top of the world ma!”

What would we do if the person speaking said, “I am having the worst day of my life. I don’t know if I can keep this up? I need help.” Would we pull out the motivational clichés, tell the person to toughen up, or just walk away after saying, “I hope you’re OK?”

How are you dealing with issues like this in your classroom? Do you feel overwhelmed yourself? Do you have a colleague or a place to go when you need support? Would you go? Ask for help? Are you running on empty?

Part of keeping your heart in tact while you practice this art comes from protecting your own state of mind. Students are not the only ones with feelings of anxiety, self-doubt, and depression. In some cases, when surveyed, teachers have noted feeling excluded in their own staff rooms, or that they struggling with so many things at once. Here are some excerpts from the ETFO web page Depression – It’s More Common Than You Think

Key Causes of Teacher Stress

Working conditions, such as the following, may make teachers particularly vulnerable to depression:

  • Long working hours.
  • Lack of administrative support.
  • Excessive workload.
  • Large class sizes.
  • Lack of specialist teachers.
  • Unreasonable expectations.
  • Lack of necessary supports to do the job.

Thankfully there is help available, but it takes time, education, courage, and a supportive environment to work.

“Prolonged exposure to stress can cause serious health issues. Making a few, simple, lifestyle changes can reduce your stress level and lower your risk of depression. Protect yourself by:

  • taking control of your life, setting achievable goals at work and at home, and being realistic about what you can accomplish.
  • making time for relationships and taking time to connect with family and friends. A strong support network makes stress easier to manage.
  • eating a healthy, balanced diet to maintain good mental and physical health.
  • exercising regularly.  Even a 10-minute walk, three times a day, reduces stress and relieves symptoms of depression.” via ETFO web page Depression – It’s More Common Than You Think

As Winter days at school become more hectic, we need to be able to see the light from one another while we wait for the sunshine of Spring and Summer to warm us. Talk to someone, reach out, get involved in something where you can contribute, and be valued for your awesomeness. Take time to share some words of encouragement or conversation with each other. Perhaps, including the OTs at your lunch table when you can. It may make a world of difference for them and for you too.

Join a Twitter PLN like #TLAP, #CDNEdChat, #NTChat, #TEDEdChat, or #EdChat. You’ll find thousands of engaged and thoughtful educators sharing your journey.

For more information about Mental Health Issues please visit CAMH.

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The Author

Will Gourley

Currently on my Nth iteration of life. Grade 6 lead learner at Beckett Farm PS in the YRDSB. Focused on disruptive, divergent, and brain based learning. Member of the global TED-Ed(Club) movement and 1 of 90 TED Ed Innovative Educators. Twitter @willgourley Proudly blogging here and at https://escheweducationalist.wordpress.com/

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