Daily Bulletin

The Conversation

  • Written by Peta Stapleton, Associate Professor in Psychology, Bond University

Over half of Australian teachers suffer from anxiety and nearly one-fifth are depressed. These are the findings of our soon-to-be-published study assessing teachers’ well-being.

We examined the health and well-being of 166 Australian school teachers, aged 22-65, in an anonymous survey. Respondents revealed their work environment, workload and finances to be the most significant sources of stress.

Around 18% of respondents had symptoms that met the criteria for moderate to severe depression. Nearly 62% met criteria for moderate to severe anxiety while nearly 20% (19.75%) had severe anxiety. And 56% met criteria for medium to high severity of somatic symptoms. This is when the symptoms are physical and can include pain, nausea, dizziness and fainting.

Alarmingly, 17% screened positive for having probable alcohol abuse or dependence.

Read more: Are you burnt out at work? Ask yourself these 4 questions

These rates are higher than the national averages. Around 10% of Australians experience depression over their lifetime, 13% experience anxiety, 5% are diagnosed with substance use disorders, and 7% are diagnosed with somatic symptom disorder.

The findings are concerning for a number of reasons, including that teachers are required to foster the emotional well-being of students. The Australian Curriculum requires teachers to address students’ personal and social capabilities. This includes teaching students to recognise and identify their own emotions, teaching emotional awareness, and relationship exploration and understanding.

But if a teacher’s mental health is affected, this may undermine their capacity to promote well-being in students.

One-quarter of Australians report they suffer stress. Previous surveys show sales support workers suffer the highest stress levels out of all occupations. Other professions experiencing high stress include hospitality, legal, social, health and welfare support workers.

But our research adds school teachers to the mix. This is supported by other studies indicating teachers are more susceptible to work-related stress, burnout and general psychological distress when compared to other occupations.

Along with assessing respondents on several measures of well-being, our study asked them to identify the most stressful thing in their lives. The word cloud below illustrates the frequency of teachers’ main concerns – of which “work” was dominant. The larger the fonts, the more frequently these were cited.

Teachers are more depressed and anxious than the average Australian Teachers’ main sources of stress. Author provided

Chronic stress has many negative consequences, including putting sufferers at risk of long-term mental health disorders.

Several features may contribute to a stressful teaching environment. Studies have pointed to a lack of educational resources, difficulties with staff and parents, work overload, time pressure and behavioural challenges with students as contributing to teacher stress and burnout. This could contribute to, or exacerbate, existing mental-health issues.

Read more: Almost every Australian teacher has been bullied by students or their parents, and it's taking a toll

Teachers may also be drinking as a form of stress relief. Other countries have reported alcohol use to be two to three times higher in teachers than in the general population.

Research on work-related stress suggests high levels of work effort must be matched with high levels of rewards. According to this model, an imbalance between effort and reward leads to increased emotional reactions and risk of mental-health problems.

Rewards can be financial, the chance for regular professional development, job security, as well as praise, approval and esteem. Teachers could be experiencing mental distress and its associated health implications if the demands of their job seem to exceed the rewards.

We know employees perform better when they have more control over their daily work schedules, flexibility and access to support when they need it.

We might see improvements in teachers’ coping and performance abilities if they are offered well-being programs, whether that be as professional development, access to paid gym memberships, or childcare support.

Attending to the mental health of teachers should be paramount. They are at the forefront of the education system and vital to supporting student success.

Psychology student Sarah Garby was involved in the research paper discussed in this article.

Authors: Peta Stapleton, Associate Professor in Psychology, Bond University

Read more http://theconversation.com/teachers-are-more-depressed-and-anxious-than-the-average-australian-117267

Writers Wanted

One quarter of Australian 11-12 year olds don't have the literacy and numeracy skills they need


Step-by-Step Process of Filing Bankruptcy in Georgia


The Conversation


Prime Minister Interview with Kieran Gilbert, Sky News

KIERAN GILBERT: Kieran Gilbert here with you and the Prime Minister joins me. Prime Minister, thanks so much for your time.  PRIME MINISTER: G'day Kieran.  GILBERT: An assumption a vaccine is ...

Daily Bulletin - avatar Daily Bulletin

Did BLM Really Change the US Police Work?

The Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement has proven that the power of the state rests in the hands of the people it governs. Following the death of 46-year-old black American George Floyd in a case of ...

a Guest Writer - avatar a Guest Writer

Scott Morrison: the right man at the right time

Australia is not at war with another nation or ideology in August 2020 but the nation is in conflict. There are serious threats from China and there are many challenges flowing from the pandemic tha...

Greg Rogers - avatar Greg Rogers

Business News

AppDynamics Solves Visibility Gap Between Traditional Infrastructure and Cloud Environments

New Full Stack Observability Platform, Integration With Cisco Intersight Workload Optimizer and Cloud Native Visualisation Features Provide Cross Domain Insights and Analytics of Business Perfor...

Hotwire Global - avatar Hotwire Global

Why Your Small Business Should Bulk Buy Hand Sanitiser

As a small business owner, employee and customer safety is at the very top of your priority list. From risk assessments to health and safety officers, appropriate signage and proper briefing...

News Co - avatar News Co

How Phone Number Search In Sydney Can Help Your Business

To run a successful business, keeping track of your company and competitors are the major factors. With a lot of tools, available businesses have options to stay current. One way in which busine...

News Co - avatar News Co

News Co Media Group

Content & Technology Connecting Global Audiences

More Information - Less Opinion