How Does an Unhealthy Environment Affect Your Mental Health While Teaching? Guest Post – Mary Jean

When it comes to the debates about mental health issues at the school level, many people miss out on the point that teachers are prone to the mental stress as much as the students are and this ignorance is what ultimately victimizes them both. Be it an online school or a regular one, teacher’s mental health plays a vital role in the wellbeing of students. The unhealthy environment either at home or workplace can take a toll on a teacher’s mental health and that can be manifested through their actions or verbally while teaching. Here is how a toxic environment can affect your mental health and what you should do to overcome it:

Unhealthy Household:

If you are living in a toxic household, you become prone to chronic stress and depression. The long-term exposure to such stressful environment causes insomnia and that is what further leads you to clinical depression. Likewise, Freud’s psychoanalysis also highlights how the repressed anger and ego issues as a child can lead to long-term depression. Moreover, if all those negative thoughts are not projected out, they will have catastrophic effect on your thinking process, this is what cognitive approach to depression suggests. 

You will lose your focus while teaching and you are more likely to project all of these negative emotions towards students. Moreover, being occupied with all these overwhelming emotions will affect your ability to address the needs of students. For further information about this, Leonard I. Pearline’s ‘The Sociological Study of Stress’ will be a good read! 

The stress level will directly affect the fellow teachers and students and will create an overall unhealthy environment in school. Being constantly in pressure makes a person ignorant about his/her surrounding and if all these negative thoughts are channeled through right means, then they are surely going to be reflected through their behavior and actions. Your persona will not send out positive vibes no matter how hard you will try. An unhealthy environment can change you drastically as a person. 

Unhealthy Workplace:

Likewise, an unhealthy workplace environment can be really stressful for the teacher’s mental and physical wellbeing. The office politics, the peer pressure, and the urge to cater to the needs of students with the limited authority they have got can be burdensome and can altogether contribute towards deteriorating mental health. Navigating challenging student’s needs and parent’s expectations put a lot of stress on teacher’s mental health that in turn leads to anxiety, insomnia, and depression.

 An unhealthy workplace can endanger the teacher’s mental wellbeing. It makes them passive when they can’t do anything to escape it. Such mental condition is called ‘learned helplessness’ by Martin Seligman. 

Endangered Physical Health:

Mental stress can stimulate physical responses. Just as your palms sweat and heartbeats fast when you are nervous about your job interview, stress can lead you to a panic attack, headaches, migraines or neckaches, and the severity of mental health issues can often lead to a nervous breakdown. These physical health issues, which are the result of mental health disorders, can be life-threatening can lead to fatal health conditions. This is going to affect both your work and private life.

What can be done?

While all the school or private life responsibilities can put you in stress, you must opt for some self-care mechanisms to cope up with the challenging situations. This can include meditation, exercises, or regular therapies. This will help in alleviating the symptoms of mental health issues. Diverting the attention from the stressful situation will enable teachers to focus more on their work progress and they will be able to focus aptly on the student’s needs and will help in resolving their issues.

Conclusion:

No matter what profession it is, you are bound to encounter stressful and challenging situations. However, the unhealthy level of mental and physical stress that puts you in a constant state of agony and depression should not be ignored at all. Either the institute’s administration or the concerned person should strictly take this thing into account and try to alleviate the factors that are problematizing the situation. 

A school is a place where students do not just get knowledge and academic excellence, but it plays a vital role in building their personalities. Every teacher they interact with has an impact on them as teachers are the ones they look up to and take inspiration from. If teachers aren’t focused on their work or are not in the right frame of mind, they will have a negative impact on the students. How can someone who is going through chronic stress and depression spread positivity around themselves? One can only have a happy healthy aura if they have peace of mind. Therefore, teachers must prioritize their mental health, because their wellbeing is what ensures a happier and healthier future for their students.