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ElizabethJoy's Message:

The best thing my school does for teacher mental health is maintain a positive culture. I worked as a casual (sub) for 3 years and worked at every school in town. At the end of my 3rd year, 3 schools offered me jobs. I chose to work at this one because there was no bitching. Seriously, it is unacceptable at my school. People would look at you like you'd grown 3 heads if someone started having a go at someone else in the staff room.

Of course nothing's perfect and there are issues from time to time, but 99% of the time I feel supported by the majority of my colleagues. That is gold, especially for someone who has suffered from social anxiety in the past (me).

Workload is crazy and the kids can be challenging, but I would not trade my workplace for a bitchy, gossipy environment no matter how light the workload was.

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Discussion Review (newest messages first)
70Primrose 12-10-2019 05:12 PM

I guess I wasn't very clear in my first post. Just reread it. I know we all have our serious mental issues and a lot of us are on meds and get professional help. I am looking for a way for us to stress less, smile more. Relax a little and feel good about ourselves, each other, and teaching. I love teaching, but working with such stressed-out people can get to me. I loved the post from Elizabethjoy about the positive culture. We do not have that. Our P likes to create an unhealthy competitive atmosphere. Our school does not work together or talk to each other. I probably can't fix things with a little book study program. It needs to come from our P.

ElizabethJoy 12-10-2019 03:39 PM

The best thing my school does for teacher mental health is maintain a positive culture. I worked as a casual (sub) for 3 years and worked at every school in town. At the end of my 3rd year, 3 schools offered me jobs. I chose to work at this one because there was no bitching. Seriously, it is unacceptable at my school. People would look at you like you'd grown 3 heads if someone started having a go at someone else in the staff room.

Of course nothing's perfect and there are issues from time to time, but 99% of the time I feel supported by the majority of my colleagues. That is gold, especially for someone who has suffered from social anxiety in the past (me).

Workload is crazy and the kids can be challenging, but I would not trade my workplace for a bitchy, gossipy environment no matter how light the workload was.

dutchgirl 12-10-2019 11:23 AM

Quote:
guess you are right, teachers are incapable of keeping things light and helpful.
Was this just proven here? Ha! But, I think that your original post was not that clear - it did sound like you were advocating for a more in-depth self help thing more than a "help lesson the load" thing! Now I get it
70Primrose 12-10-2019 05:50 AM

I guess everyone misunderstood me. I want a way for teachers to lessen their stress. So ideas for better planning, how to prioritize, how to carve out time for yourself.

I guess you are right, teachers are incapable of keeping things light and helpful.

MaineSub 12-10-2019 04:26 AM

I agree with many of the concerns posted and could add a few more of my own. But in the interest of supporting the idea...

One thing we do at our school that doesn't involve a program is an informal "keep an eye on each other" thing. If one of us sees another who seems troubled, we'll connect in some way--that may range from "bad day, eh?" to "Are you okay?" It works because it's a culture, not a program.

Another thing we do is practice some traditions... an occasional potluck lunch or after school "party" that changes focus and gets us talking about something other than how bad things are...

(I'm sworn to secrecy but one staff member has a "secret" stash of emergency chocolate... if you're at your wit's end, you're allowed to raid that cupboard.)

I think it's a matter of finding ways to connect with each other. Programs tend to add stress because they become a "have to" thing, one more book to read, one more meeting to attend.

Early intervention can diminish the need for programs, counseling, meds. Connection and community are known protective factors in mental health.

But how do you start a culture? By normalizing supportive behavior. That old thing about telling two people who tell two people who tell two people... I would find two colleagues and make a connection (call it a deal) that we are going to check in with each other from time to time... and then, maybe they'll tell two people...

PrivateEyes 12-09-2019 11:28 AM

I agree that a teacher's mental health should be paramount, because it definitely affects a teacher's ability to be effective in the classroom. Also, one's health is more important than one's job.

But unfortunately, mental health concerns still carry a stigma. I would be concerned about the following in a workplace environment:

A. Confidentiality. Can you trust everyone in the group to keep what you say away from non-participating teachers and administration?

B. How will just participating in a mental health group affect how your administration thinks you are doing your job. Perception is everything, and many times people see what they expect to see. Will you be scrutinized more? While you be judged differently? Will administration suddenly see everything you do as a problem?

ConnieWI 12-09-2019 09:46 AM

My district has an employee assistance program. I believe it is through our health insurance. Each employee is given a number to call, and from there, arrangements are made to get the assistance needed.

I agree with Cassyree. Group teacher counseling would turn into a gripe fest. I also believe in one-on-one counseling. Our stress as teachers is real. If we need help, we should definitely seek it.

arsabl 12-09-2019 07:50 AM

Check with your health insurance. I know one of our health insurance groups will help coordinate mental health awareness for schools. They provide swag and guidance to bring good mental health habits into the school.

Cassyree 12-09-2019 06:46 AM

My opinion, for what it's worth and many will think not much.

I'm a great believer in counseling, but I think the kind of school group you suggest would devolve/disintegrate into a big gripe session. I don't think "wallowing" (that's a word that some PTers don't like to be used) is helpful. Imagine a LONG, continuing vent board conversation.

Teaching is a tough job. There are many tough jobs. There are coping skills, but many people don't want to cope and make a major change in jobs or life. They'd rather stay stuck and wallow.

70Primrose 12-09-2019 06:08 AM

At my school there is a huge push right now on helping students self regulate with anxiety, trauma, anger, etc... This is wonderful and really helpful. I would like more for teachers too! There is nothing ever said about how to help ourselves overcome these things. I feel we all have some degree of secondary PTSD. Yes, I know, go to counseling, get on meds. Seriously though our jobs are at the top of the list for stressful jobs. We are running in every direction trying to get it all done and keep these kids learning and safe.

I would like to introduce something for the teachers health, maybe a book study? I have no ideas, any suggestions? Does your school do anything?




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