The impact of Mental Health Training on teachers

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Teachers gather at Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayyed primary school, Mombasa, during a past event. PHPOTO/Courtesy.
Teachers gather at Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayyed primary school, Mombasa, during a past event. PHPOTO/Courtesy.

By its very nature, teaching is a rewarding and challenging profession with high-stress levels.

If teachers are not supported and trained to cope with these, teaching can become an exhausting and challenging job that negatively affects both the teacher and the pupils.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), Mental health is a state of well-being in which an individual realizes his or her abilities, can cope with everyday stresses of life, can work productively, and by extension, make a contribution to his or her community.

In other words, Mental Health incorporates all aspects of the psychological, social, and emotional well-being of a human being.

Mental health profoundly affects how people feel, think and act. It helps determine how they cope with stressful situations and how they relate to other people at home, at work, and generally in the broader society.

It determines how people make choices about their lives and how they react to other people’s choices, impacting their life from early childhood to old age.

Responding to the high number of teachers suffering from mental health challenges, it is vital for teachers to receive training on mental health.

This would help them identify, understand and find coping skills for mental health issues they face and get support if necessary.

This sounds noble and an important step towards creating and promoting an environment that protects and supports mental health for our teachers, who are the second parents to our children.

This conversation needs to be part of a national program by both governmental and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to create policies and training strategies to identify and help teachers navigate mental health challenges.

It is critical for teachers to be trained to identify problems and seek help whenever the need arises, as these mental health issues could come in many forms.

In a nutshell, Mental health training can help teachers and management build support systems and develop a culture of awareness and proactive well-being interventions,

The informed teachers would easily manage the situation by using sufficient information to guide them and help them realize they are not unique in having these feelings.

However, the school management, besides offering relevant training, should also focus on what can be described literally as a ‘buddy’ or mentoring system, whereby senior staff or colleagues can be taught to offer non-judgmental, effective support to their colleagues struggling with mental health challenges.

Having this implemented, along with training to all staff, then mental health issues might be avoided because staff will be empowered to recognize possible problems before they become serious.

As a deterrent measure, it is worthy for organizations to establish an open-door policy, which to a more considerable extent, can also help teachers solve problems or concerns, which will prevent mental health issues from developing to alarming levels.

Having extra training and professional development in matters of mental health or related issues in the workplace can help with staff retention since staff feels that they are being heard, mainly if the training is interactive.

Teacher training should include ways to promote mental health in children.

From early education, teachers can be instrumental in early interventions like stability at home, proper rest and nutrition, a supportive, relevant, and stimulating curriculum, and protection from threat, humiliation or harm.

Poor mental health in the workplace is more common than one would think. If left unchecked, it can play havoc with one’s happiness, job satisfaction, and career development.

Mental health problems are common and treatable, but a complete recovery is often a long process that requires various therapies and consistent self-discipline and effort combined with the desire to be healthy.

Teachers are being inflicted with budget cuts, bigger classes, fewer staff members, and retention problems, increasing their workload.

Poor mental health harms the productivity, professional contentment and efficiency of teachers.

It also negatively impacts pupils, lesson planning and effective teaching. It is essential that the practical elements of teaching, like classroom control and curriculum management, become more manageable as teachers gain experience.

This is a crucial motivation for protecting the mental health of young teachers.

YOU CAN ALSO READ: OPINION: Combat mental ill health and encourage work-life balance

Incorporating staff training in mental health is an important starting point in any organization since it develops a culture of openness about mental health concerns.

Mental health training facilitates teachers to create an environment in the school that supports and identifies mental well-being, where all children are accepted and respected regardless of race, gender, academic ability and socio-economic status.

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Mr. Oroko is a Media and Communications practitioner based in Kisii, Kenya. His contact: benoroko2000@benoroko

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