5 Ways Teachers can Deal with Mental Health Problems

Teachers are seen to be the pillar of every functional education system, for they play a very critical role in making students into successful individuals. No wonder Joyce Meyer said, “teachers can change lives with just the right mix of chalk and challenges “. Whether at a public or private school or college, we have all at one time or the other been nurtured by great teachers – teachers are the essential school-level determinant of children’s learning and lifelong success.

Surprisingly, teachers have remained one of the most undervalued and less motivated workforce in Nigeria despite their significant role in building the future leaders of the country.

According to the president of the Nigerian Union of Teachers (NUT), as at February 2018, over 13 states have not paid salaries to their teachers.

Source: Daily Trust

Some states have been reported to have only been paying 50% monthly salary to teachers, attributing reasons to a paucity of funds. Still, this does not stop many teachers like Richard Appiah Akoto and several others from being dedicated to the profession.

Source: Techcrunch

Teachers on a daily basis grapple with myriads of challenges with far-reaching consequences on their mental health. Research has shown that excessive workloads and growing financial pressures on teachers were major contributing factors to teachers mental health problems. As teachers, we are the custodian of our students and take responsibility for their actions and inaction, in the process, we pay little or no attention to our mental health.


How should teachers deal with mental health issues?

  1. Connect

As a teacher, it may be difficult to catch up with people and even create time to connect. It is quite understandable that teachers spend the bulk of their time in the classroom with students and doing other school-related activities. But this may have serious implication on their mental health.


Researchers have stressed the importance of having a range of healthy relationships. They likened feeling disconnected from others to be worse than smoking 15 cigarettes a day. The Mental Health Foundation states that people who are more socially connected to family, friends and their communities are happier, physically healthier and live longer, with fewer mental health problems.

You can not underestimate the importance of connecting with people, it has been reported that people who identify closely with a group reported being healthier.

2. Awareness

People get more distracted in today’s world, largely due to the presence of mobile technology. Evidence suggests that we check our phones on average 85 times a day. This, among other distractions, limit how much we notice what is going on in our world. While we are often distracted by series of events and activities that happen on a daily basis. The first thing to understand is that mental health issues are real, as individuals who experience series of activities on a daily basis, we are more likely to go through one mental or psychological issue or the other.

The non-awareness of this is the beginning of trouble. It is normal for you to be stressed, depressed or to even be emotionally disturbed. What is abnormal is, not recognizing the presence of it and how to seek help in such situations. Being aware of, and paying close attention to your mental wellness is very essential to living and leading a healthier life.


3. Keep learning

Learning could have a significant impact on your mental well-being, it gives a sense of achievement and helps you cope with stressful events. A study into adult learning (pdf) has found that the most fundamental and pervasive benefit from learning of every kind is a growth in self-confidence.

Learning new things comes with a degree of self-fulfillment which inspires a feeling of achievement and happiness. Learning something new every day could go a long way in improving your emotional wellbeing. It could be as simple as watching a video on how to prepare a particular continental dish – say Chicken and Cheese Salad.


4. Be active

Exercising regularly could also have significant benefits to your mood, self-esteem, and help you deal with stress more effectively.

It could be difficult to maintain a regular exercise or physical fitness schedule, a 5 to 10 minutes fitness routine might just be all you need before you go to the shower in the morning and maybe just before you take the late shower before bedtime calls.

Fitness activity could also be something like using the pedestrian bridge to cross a major highway as against using the motorways. Exercising regularly can equally help combat fatigue and enhance focus. Being active can stimulate improved mental health, especially if it helps with socializing or focusing on the present.

5.Give to others and stay happy

Giving is the cornerstone of living a healthy and happy life. Perhaps that is why Maya Angelou said; when we give cheerfully and accept gracefully, everyone is blessed.

Giving comes with a sense of fulfillment and joy, it enlivens the soul of both the giver and the receiver, especially when done in good faith. A recent research by the Association for Psychological Science  (PDF) states that expressing varying acts of kindness can increase happiness and the mechanism by which these effects work.

Giving does not necessarily mean gifting others money, it could be extending an act of kindness or helping others through a difficult situation, or volunteering.

Evidence suggests that we feel a warm glow when we support others. This is very important for those who work in schools, especially teachers; where, in reality, the bulk of their job involves giving either of time, energy or advice – serving even more as loco parenthis to their students.

As teachers, you can achieve a balanced state of mind when you direct your energy and passion to the things that make your students happy and create an enabling environment that helps you draw inspiration from what you do.

Your mental health is more important and remains a critical part of what will make your life a fulfilling one. Happiness is a product of your choices and state of mind. Take your mental health seriously and it is important you talk to a counselor.

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Posted On: 7 June, 2018