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US teachers’ mental health in sharp decline

Divisive debate after Trump's election has worsened the school environment by showing 'hate is OK', says union leader

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Divisive debate after Trump's election has worsened the school environment by showing 'hate is OK', says union leader

Stories about the growing pressures on teachers and the impact on their mental health have become commonplace in the UK.

But now it appears that teacher wellbeing also seems to be on the slide across the pond.

More American teachers are now saying that their mental health is suffering than did two years earlier, according to a new survey reported by USA Today.

A poll of 5,000 teachers by the American Federation of Teachers trade union and the Badass Teachers' Association – a grassroots organisation focusing on social justice – showed that 58 per cent said their mental health had been “not good” for seven or more of the previous 30 days.

In a survey in 2015, 34 per cent of respondents reported the same.

Donald Trump 'has a negative impact'

Commenting on the results, Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, said the divisive nature of public debates following the election of President Trump had affected the atmosphere in schools.

“This notion that being coarse and tough and enabling hate is OK is highly, highly, highly disruptive and problematic in schools and goes completely against what parents and teachers know is absolutely important for kids, which is a safe and welcoming environment,” Ms Weingarten said.

The survey showed that 86 per cent of teachers did not feel respected by the education secretary, Betsy DeVos.

Some 61 per cent of school staff also said their work was “always” or “often” stressful. 

And only one in five (18 per cent) got eight or more hours of sleep per night, with 78 per cent managing five to seven hours a night.

In the UK, a YouGov survey commissioned by the Education Support Partnership last month showed that 75 per cent of school staff had experienced psychological, physical or behavioural symptoms because of work in the past two years. 

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