Mental health is a crucial issue for schools. Fostering good mental health for students is vitally important – especially as it was revealed this week that nearly half a million children are not getting enough mental health support at school.
But in doing so, the mental health and wellbeing of teachers and staff shouldn’t be ignored. In the last year alone, it’s estimated that over 500,000 working days were lost in secondary schools owing to stress, depression or anxiety directly linked to people’s jobs.
Robert McGreal, the lead work-related stress policy advisor at the Health and Safety Executive, has provided his top five tips to help you tackle stress in schools.
He puts forward these ideas not just because fostering a supportive atmosphere is a good thing to do (although it absolutely is…), but because schools have a legal duty to provide such an environment.
- Start talking: Having early conversations with teachers and support staff about causes and potential causes of stress makes preventing it more straightforward than waiting until it’s already a problem.
- Find the right resources: Earlier this month, the Duke of Cambridge launched #MentalHealthAtWork, a new online gateway to resources developed to help workplaces improve staff wellbeing.
- Know the causes of stress: Tackling work-related stress in your school is impossible without knowing what the causes are. Engaging with staff to find out what the underlying causes of work-related stress are and involving them in identifying solutions is essential.
- Bust the myths: With demands over workload featuring as one of the key causes of stress for all workers, knowing the difference between what your school needs to do and doesn’t can be essential. The Department for Education and Ofsted have both released resources that help to bust the myths and identify where schools can remove unnecessary workload for teachers and leaders.
- Think about more than just wellbeing: Organisations are increasingly drawing up wellbeing strategies and encouraging their employees to take up mindfulness, yoga or meditation to de-stress. While these can look like solutions, they don’t remove the causes of work-related stress, and they can’t solve any wider issues. Removing the causes of work-based stress is more effective.