New Teachers are Struggling
A recent study by Leeds Beckett University suggested that less than half of new teachers had definite plans to stay in the profession. Surprisingly, they had come to this conclusion after only a year in their new jobs. Given the time and money they have invested, their experiences must have been quite bad! As a result, new teacher’s mental health declines rapidly.
This article by the Independent newspaper expands on some of the reasons behind this worrying statistic. Anxiety or panic attacks seem to be the most commonly reported symptoms. Depression and late night self-medication of alcohol are rarer. However, given the relatively small size of the study I imagine the national figures would be very concerning.
The Responsibility of the Next Generation
Why are the people that have taken it upon themselves to follow a career developing our next generation are so badly supported? In Bristol and South Gloucestershire, teachers can choose to receive short-term counselling through the council. This is a good initiative, however managing anxiety and panic attacks can be a longer term process. Furthermore, depression tends to come in cycles and can be very difficult to shake off.
In other areas of the country, teacher’s mental health is supported by regular counsellor visits to schools. This is a time in which any teacher can confidentially speak to someone. Normally once a month, this concept of regular drop-in sessions is inspirational. Results speak for themselves with these schools often seen to maintain consistently high Ofsted ratings.
New teachers struggle with mental health issues in the absence of a professional support network. Of course, by researching online one can find a plethora of information. Much of this advice is valid and generally suitable. For example, CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) is successful in combating symptoms of anxiety. However, this should be facilitated by a trained professional.
Mindfulness can often provide good results. This can be as simple as concentrating on yourself for a couple of minutes several times a day. It’s a bit like retraining yourself or learning a new skill. In other words it takes a bit of practice. However, the rewards of learning to be more grounded and present in the ‘here and now’ hold great potential. The grip of anxiety is reduced by spending less time concerned with the future.
Mindfulness can be learnt individually or with the help of a professional counsellor. Please contact me if you would like more information or to arrange well priced sessions to work on these or similar issues.