Schools and teachers were the backbone of the community during this time, allowing other families to continue working and provide essential services.
The Forgotten Frontline:
We do not really know how teachers were affected by COVID-19 and how they have been coping. We addressed this in an article recently published in Australasian Psychiatry. In summary, early research shows two patterns:
- Anxiety, depression, stress, post-traumatic stress symptoms, burnout, exhaustion, and sleep are problematic for teachers; and
- In times of emergency, teachers with pre-existing mental health conditions fare worse than those without prior mental health conditions.
These results are concerning, and a spotlight must now be turned to the teaching community.
Focusing on teacher mental health is not only necessary to secure the teaching workforce into the future, but to also protect and support the healthy development of their students.
To help address the mental health of teachers, we recommend:
- Further research to identify and target areas of need
- Development and roll-out of evidence-based programs
- Proactive disaster planning from Education Departments
- School-level resourcing to support new online and hybrid learning
- Targeted funding to support teacher’s mental health
Effective change is needed at multiple levels, with support from Education Departments, school leadership, and communities alike.
Our team at the Black Dog Institute recognise that supporting Australian teachers is vitally important. We are currently developing a mental health program for teachers, with teachers at the centre of the process guiding what needs to be done and how. If you are interested in finding out more or want to be involved, please contact [email protected].