To mark #WorldMentalHealthDay2023 Founding Director Dr Patricia Watts shines a light on the mental health needs of education staff.
As we mark World Mental Health Day 2023, the echoes of the challenges faced by education staff in the post-pandemic era resonate louder than ever. The nature of the education profession can lead to staff burnout due to the high levels of responsibility, workload, and emotional labour. Education staff often navigate emotionally charged environments, dealing with the diverse needs of children and young people.
The toll of stress and vicarious trauma is felt deeply within educational settings where staff work tirelessly to support the mental health needs of children and young people, and in many cases taking on a dual role to act as a buffer for the gaps in children’s mental health services. It is recognised that regular self-care can act as a protective buffer for education staff, preventing burnout and sustaining long-term well-being.
Self-care practices contribute to emotional resilience, enabling educators to feel regulated and better handle the emotional demands of their roles. Education staff also act as role models for children and young people and by prioritising self-care, they demonstrate the importance of well-being and model regulation which can teach children and young people valuable self-care strategies that can be applied out with the classroom.
The Department for Education's 'Education Staff Well Being Charter', which prioritises mentally healthy schools, underscores the critical importance of proactive measures to safeguard the mental health of those within the educational community. Recently, the TCCTP Directors had the privilege of hosting our Creative Therapeutic Self-Care for Schools programme at an all-staff wellbeing day at a secondary school in the South of England. Here we offered a safe space for school staff to consider the impact of stress on their physical and mental health and the learning environment. Staff then engaged in a number of short guided activities to implement creative therapeutic self-care into their daily school routines and support them to promote self-regulation.
Creativity is a valuable asset in education, and this is something educators usually facilitate for children and young people. The common themes we heard from educators participating in our Creative Therapeutic Self-Care for Schools programme was that ‘it felt good to have the time to do something creative for themselves, it was a relief to only focus on one activity at a time and it was satisfying to have the opportunity to complete an activity’.
We also heard from several staff that having time to be creative helped them to re-connect with what they love about their jobs and facilitated reflection on why they embarked on a career in education. Although it is not always easy to make self-care a priority with the competing demands of the role, self-care activities, such as making time for art making, mindfulness and relaxation techniques can improve concentration and overall cognitive function.
In essence, self-care is not a luxury for education staff; it is fundamental for sustaining their well-being and positively impacting the learning environment for children and young people and is an investment that pays dividends in both personal and professional realms. As we mark World Mental Health Day 2023, we encourage all education staff to take a proactive step towards prioritising their mental health and making space for self-care and creativity.
To learn more about our support for education staff, visit our website www.tcctp.org or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org