Staff mental health declines, support offered

Teachers, staff work towards new practices

Abraham Morales, News Editor, Multimedia Editor

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, teachers consistently reported high stress levels, burnout, and mental exhaustion, according to the “We are Teachers” blog. A year of remote and hybrid learning, followed by another year of full in-person learning, has only increased the amount of reported mental health issues. 

“I have seen teacher mental health decline a lot this year,” class of 2023 social worker Mary Palacios said. “I think time helps with healing a lot, and I think it’ll take some time for staff to get back on their feet and adjust.”

More than 75% of teachers reported frequent job-related stress, compared to 40% of other working adults, according to the 2021 State of the U.S. Teacher Survey. Furthermore, 27% of teachers reported symptoms of depression, compared to 10% of other adults. Nearly one in four teachers stated that they were likely to leave their jobs by the end of the 2020–2021 school year, compared with one in six teachers who were likely to leave prior to the pandemic. 

“Any educator, or staff member, is dealing with so much right now,” Palacios said. “We are expected to take care of, teach, and guide students, all while doing the same for our own children at home. We have had to do so much adapting and overcoming, that it’s no surprise we see educators get burnt out so quickly.”

Teachers are not the only ones experiencing burnout and mental exhaustion. All staff, including administrators, paraeducators, social workers, guidance counselors, student assistants (security guards) etc., have all seen a decrease in mental health, Palacious said. 

“Not seeing colleagues and students in-person was very difficult,” English teacher Bradley Anderson said. “Just the mere lack of personal interaction was detrimental to my mental health. Changes in school protocols, civil unrest, and the political divide all added to the energy drain on the staff.” 

The stress of being an educator, along with the low wages in some districts, are resulting in teacher shortages all over the country, according to the “Learning Policy Institute” blog. The added isolation and disconnect from colleagues and students has only increased feelings about leaving the profession, Anderson said. 

Currently, LT does not offer mental health days for staff, however, personal days and sick days are always readily available. LT also has a partnership with the Employee Assistance Program, allowing staff to receive mental health support for themselves and their families.

“This new administration has done a great job of trying to do more outreach in that they’re learning to support staff through a really difficult school year,” Palacious said. “More mental health staff is being added to ensure our students feel supported, but also our teachers and staff. It seems like [administrators are] taking this seriously and are doing something about it.”