Teachers’ Well-Being and Mental Health Are Just as Important as Students’

Teachers’ Well-Being and Mental Health is just as Important as Students’

This morning, a student entered my classroom in a way she normally wouldn’t. I could spot her tired eyes from the moment she walked in the classroom door. She smiled halfheartedly as I said “good morning”, and fought back tears in her desk without ever saying a word, the way seventh-grade girls may do when their heart is hurting. 

Immediately, I knew I needed to reach out to her—whether that be a short talk, or a trip to the counselor, or a deeper discussion about a recurring problem. You see, we’re expected to handle these types of things. Better yet, we WANT to help. We want to fix things for our students when they aren’t quite right…

But who is fixing things for us?

Does that sound selfish? You can bet it does to us—that’s why we keep quiet about anything that compromises our own mental health.

Teachers are the last things on teachers’ minds.

We have students to worry about. We have deadlines to make. Schedules to uphold. Parents to please. Observations to ace.

As a teacher, I don’t have the time or the energy to worry about me.

When I finally realize I should’ve stopped pushing myself so hard, it’s already too late. Then, when I finally break down, who’s there for me?

It’s not just me, or my school. It’s becoming a problem everywhere. Teachers are an easy target, you see. We’re natural givers. We wouldn’t be in the profession if it weren’t for the tug on our hearts to make the world better. So we give—and no one is telling us to ever stop. 

Instead, society and those doing the decision-making are sending messages of how we’re “not doing enough”. Teachers like me make the mistake of thinking we’ll be rewarded for our selflessness—and instead, we’re expected to give more and more, while the help and compensation become less and less.

Dear teacher friends—

Be selfish for once. Chances are, you aren’t being selfish at all. You just think you are because you’re so used to giving and serving everyone but you. You’ve been conditioned to believe that any issue with your mental health is no one’s fault but yours. 

You’re not alone. If you are struggling because of extremely high expectations, less-than-ideal teaching situations, and a never-ending to-do list, it makes sense that your mental health would take a hit.

We’ve all heard—“you can’t pour from an empty cup”. Well, guess what?

You’ve got kids emptying your cup. You’ve got paperwork thrown in that’s also soaking up every last drop. You keep trying to fill it up, but your cup is getting crushed by the load of so much monotonous stuff.

Please know when enough is enough. 

As a teacher, please know your limits because unfortunately, the takers have none.

If anyone really wants to know why there’s a teacher shortage, and teacher strikes, and teacher burn-out, listen up—

Teachers don’t want any of these things, but the depletion of their mental health is what often forces them to finally say

“I’m done”. 

Also Check Out:

Teachers’ Well-Being and Mental Health is just as Important as Students’

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Whitney Ballard is a writer and teacher from small town Alabama. She owns the Trains and Tantrums blog, https://trainsandtantrums.blog/. Whitney went from becoming a mom at sixteen to holding a Master’s degree in Education; she writes about her journey, along with daily life, through a Christian lens on her blog. When she’s not writing, you’ll find her in the backyard with her husband, two boys, and two dogs.

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