If we want our school staff to do what’s asked of them, then we need to make sure that their mental health and wellbeing is effectively supported.” Peter Fonaghy, CEO Anna Freud Centre, London
Teaching is a tough job. It can be immensely rewarding but also physically and emotionally draining. Safeguarding and mental health issues can be intense and complex. Children’s behavioural and emotional problems are increasing. Many schools recognise this and provide support for their staff. The new focus on children’s mental health though serves as an important reminder to us that we must couple support for school staff with the ambitions we have for children’s wellbeing. If we don’t we will be letting down all school staff.
The term “wellbeing” can be used to describe our holistic health, including our physical, mental and emotional health. When we have good levels of wellbeing we feel that life is in balance and that we can generally cope well. We feel motivated and engaged and can show resilience by “bouncing back” from life’s challenges.
School staff often juggle multiple tasks and demands so a focus on staff wellbeing has become increasingly important. Taking good care of staff both emotionally and practically helps them to perform to the best of their ability and ensures that they are better able to support pupils. Workloads, deadlines and challenging behaviours can all impact negatively on the wellbeing of school staff.
Poor mental wellbeing may impact on their ability to manage during key moments of stress in the classroom or at school. Staff who have good mental wellbeing are more likely to have the necessary resources to be able to manage and plan during or after stressful episodes whether with a pupil, a class, a colleague, an inspector or a parent.
It is important to recognise that taking time to enhance staff wellbeing can have many benefits for schools such as:
- Positive impact on pupils, including improved educational outcomes, as both staff and children and young people are more engaged
- Increased productivity of staff members
- Reduced absences from work in relation to sickness (both short term and long term)
- Staff being able to manage stress better and develop healthier coping strategies
- Improved job satisfaction, which can support retention
- Staff feeling valued, supported and invested in
How I can support staff wellbeing
As a psychotherapist in private practice, I can offer individual clinical supervision to principals and teaching staff who are struggling with classroom difficulties and if necessary provide psychotherapeutic support to those dealing with personal issues. Clients can be assured that they will receive a confidential and professional service in accordance with my MSc. (Psychotherapy) professional training and the IACP Code of Ethics and Practice. I am also available to support schools if there is a need for Crisis Intervention Counselling.