Wednesday, January 06, 2021

Teachers struggling with mental health during pandemic

"Since summer, experts have warned that the mental health of the nation’s teachers — a category dominated 3 to 1 by women — could suffer when school resumed. That prediction appears to be bearing out. Many say their psychological well-being is suffering in ways they’ve hardly ever experienced," Shefali Luthra reports for The 19th, a non-profit online newsroom that reports on gender and policy. "The burden is most acute for teachers who are mothers, and steering both their students and their own children through online learning." 

Rural school districts are more likely than their suburban and urban counterparts to hold in-person classes, but many have been forced to go to distance learning models because of rising Covid-19 cases. Some districts continue attempting to return to in-person classes but are then obliged to go back to distance learning after new cases arise, Luthra reports.

"Between the unpredictability, the isolation and the newfound challenges in reaching their students — who mental health experts worry are also struggling — what little mental health support is extended to teachers feels like nowhere near enough," Luthra reports. "Last August, the National Education Association, a major teachers union, found that 28 percent of educators said the pandemic made them more likely to leave teaching. A study from Louisiana tracked early childhood educators’ mental health last spring, finding that rates of depression almost doubled, with more than a third of those educators indicating depressive symptoms. In a survey run from August to September by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, the vast majority of teachers reported working longer hours, and only a quarter said their school offered adequate support for mental health." That level of stress is unsustainable, say mental-health researchers.

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