Right now, teachers are stretched to their absolute limit. Their mental health and wellbeing are in jeopardy. They need on the ground, immediate supports.
Out of a recent study, 97% of teachers surveyed stated they have experienced increased physical, mental, and emotional workload and job demands during the 2020-2021 school year. Also noted in the study was a concern for:
- The deteriorating mental health of Canadian public-school teachers has been caused in part by increased workload, uncertainty, and inadequate support from school, boards/districts, and Ministry/Department leadership.
- Teachers are being pulled in multiple directions and are, due to both the mounting demands and growing digital connectivity, increasingly always “on”.
- Teachers are collectively experiencing an omnipresent sense of emergency, uncertainty, and crisis, which has reached a point of unsustainability.
- Education workers are putting their students’ needs and concerns above their own, with 81% of interview participants citing student success as their top concern.
Many teachers feel powerless with demands, student behaviour, complex mental health and learning needs, and trapped by systemic pressure. These teachers became educators to make a difference and to pass on a love of learning, only to find that is the one thing barriers keep them from doing. Many barriers out of their control. Unless we find another way around the way things are, many great teachers will continue to walk away from the profession.
The issues we are facing in schools are only there because we choose to tolerate them. Sure, there is a ton of bureaucracy we don’t control, but there are things within our control. I’m going to cover that in the pages of this book.
Over the last ten years, I’ve seen with my very eyes the increase of youth-related anxiety and depression. A study from the University of Calgary, Raising Canada, revealed that in the last decade, fifty-five percent of hospital visits from children and youth have been for mental health related issues. I’m not sure if we realize the severity of that.
For a youth to visit a hospital for a mental health concern, they must have threatened their life. The statistic isn’t about a doctor visit for meds or to be referred to a counsellor. To visit the hospital means that child is inn crisis. Fifty-five percent. Let’s just let that sink in for a moment. And then those students walk into your class, where to be honest, teachers are doing much better mentally themselves. From the outside looking in, who else thinks this can’t end well?
As of right now 1.2 million children and youth in Canada where I live are affected by mental illness and only twenty percent of them are receiving the proper treatment. You will discover in this book how for 16 years my son was mis-diagnosed and how that not only impacted his education, but left teachers ineffective to be able to help him, no matter how much they wanted to.
One in five youth today struggle with a mental health issue. Every single one of those “one-in-fives” has a teacher who is more than likely feeling lost about how to support and educate them. The issue isn’t that teachers don’t want to do something, it’s that they don’t know how.
How do you support a student who is depressed?
How do you get through to an oppositional student?
How do you teach a student with ADHD?
How do you see a student drowning in anxiety to find peace?
This is what we support teachers and schools with in our Flourishing Educator Program.
Here’s the thing, when things get bad enough, it’s a great opportunity for change. Human flourishing is always possible when there is the presence of languishing.
In just the past five years, there has been a significant decline in students being able to connect with teachers and with one another. This started even pre-covid. Much of the work I did in schools through my unique dance circle method left students mentioning the experience of having to face and look at others as “awkward”.
Honestly, I’m done with us putting band-aids on today’s mental health problems. I’m realizing the answers to social issues in schools like bullying, and seeing teachers not have enough support to teach students of diverse learning is not going to be solved alone by government or unions, but by the awakening of people like you and me. For Educators and Parents to be given the tools to make change happen. We need to do this together because mental health is created socially.
You’re not just an educator. You’re a culture maker. There’s a lot at stake here, but together we can make a difference. Join us for our Flourishing Educator Certification or have us come to your school to see the difference we make. You can find out more by emailing Connie at Connie@wellnessinnovate.com
About the Author
Connie Jakab has been working in resilience and flourishing for over 20 years. Starting with youth at risk and gangs in East Vancouver, Connie has been researching how community creates resilience and mental wellness her entire career through a sociological lens.