The burnout caused by the pandemic has caused a significant number of teachers to lose sleep, negatively impact their eating habits and lead to physical and mental health problems, according to new research.
a study measuring the professional stress of teachers in Ireland found that 82% reported moderate or high levels of personal burnout during the pandemic. Most of them (79%) said they suffered from burnout after a period when schools suffered sporadic closures and a shift to online learning.
The study by the UCD researchers, published in the International Journal of Open Education Researchsaid these rapid changes are likely to compound other personal or family stressors resulting from the pandemic.
Two-thirds of teachers (67%) reported adverse mental health effects when surveyed, while 70% said their sleep had deteriorated. A similar number (66%) said they felt low levels of job satisfaction.
Increased alcohol consumption had become a feature for a third of teachers surveyed (33 percent). Workplace safety was an important concern for nearly half of teachers, with 42% of participants saying they did not feel able to keep themselves safe at school.
A third of participants (34%) said their diet had deteriorated, while 43% of teachers reported adverse physical effects..
One of the report’s lead authors, Fiona McNicholas, a UCD professor of child and adolescent psychiatry, said the findings were very concerning.
The 245 teachers who took part in the survey were approached between November 2020 and March last year, but their stress and anxiety have likely increased since then.
“What we are likely to find is that this ongoing onslaught or stressor is going to deplete the well-being of the teacher even more than our study period, because we have had yet another year of Covid “said Professor McNicholas.
Teachers reported deterioration in the physical (37 percent) and mental (59 percent) health of family members. A similar number (58%) have seriously considered changing jobs in the past year. Nine in 10 said their overall workload had increased during the pandemic.
The report states that such stress, if left unmanaged, can lead to many negative consequences, including loss of job satisfaction, reduced effectiveness in teaching, and burnout. Teachers’ unions said the findings were consistent with reports they had received during the pandemic. Teachers’ Union of Ireland general secretary Michael Gillespie said there was anecdotal evidence of teachers choosing to retire early in recent years due to pandemic-related factors.
Irish National Teachers’ Organization general secretary John Boyle said separate research carried out by his union at the start of the pandemic showed principals in particular were under significant pressure, with just 2 per cent describing their workload as “manageable”.
“Among the main sources of stress and anxiety for managers was the overwhelming sense of responsibility with limited support,” Boyle said.
“Some principals have struggled to manage not only their own anxiety but that of their teaching staff. While many managers reported taking specific actions to support their physical and mental health, lack of time was an issue for those who said they were not taking specific actions regarding their wellbeing. ”
Secondary Teachers Association, Ireland Spokeswoman Moira Leydon said teachers needed better access to supports at local level.
“Such high stress levels are a collective problem and can only be addressed collectively in the workplace by addressing workload, class size and implementing specific interventions,” a- she declared.
A ministry of education The spokeswoman said occupational health supports and psychological supports are in place to support school staff.
“Aware that the well-being of students is influenced by the well-being of the adults around them and that students feel the stress of others, school staff have, despite these challenges, promoted a feeling of safety, calm and hope in schools. ,” she said.