Though the topics of mental health and substance abuse are becoming more and more acceptable within schools, there is still a lack of direction for teachers, professors, and other faculty members who actually deal with substance abuse and related mental health conditions themselves. Currently, most of the focus around mental health in schools is centered on student mental health and how teachers can better implement communication about those issues into the classroom.
Though important, this has placed teachers under the obligation to act as the first line of defense when it comes to their student’s mental health, but many teachers are not professionally trained, nor are they compensated, for mental health services provided to their students. While it is still important, especially as student mental health continues to be affected by COVID-19 as well, there is very little by way of extending resources to teachers, professors, and other faculty members. Because teachers directly impact students, declining mental health, stress, substance abuse, and negative mindsets can cause students’ mental health to decrease as well.
A study done in 2013 found that 46% of K-12 teachers reported significantly high levels of stress, compared to nurses (46%) and physicians (45%) who reported similar levels of daily stress. 78% of teachers reported increasing emotional and physical fatigue at the end of the day. Another study, this one from the UCL Institute of Education, showed that 1 in 20 teachers is currently affected by long-term mental health conditions compared to only 1 in 100 teachers in 1990.
Factors reported by teachers that have an increased effect on classroom stress and declining mental health are:
Because of the demands placed upon teachers and other faculty members, burnout and fatigue have become chronic problems that lead to other issues such as loss of enjoyment, increased illness, aches and pains, high levels of stress or anxiety, and increased depression rates amongst educators. What’s striking is that only 25.5% of schools currently offer teachers any form of stress management education or mental health services and most wellness resources that are offered typically focus on physical health as opposed to mental wellbeing.
High levels of stress already cause significant mental health concerns for teachers, so it is no question that the current COVID-19 climate has only increased these problems. With many schools and universities opting for hybrid class formats which combine both in-person and online classes and some choosing to remain completely online, the ways in which teachers and students interact is shifting to an unknown. This can be an anxiety-inducing territory that many are struggling to navigate. Because of these changes, the workload that educators are facing is strenuous, and it is clear that student stress is affecting them as well.
A study done by Course Hero showed that 74% of teachers reported a significant increase in stress due to the difficulties from transitioning to online teaching formats. Compared to the beginning of the pandemic in 2020, this stress is currently at its highest as schools are transitioning back into the classroom, and teachers are finding it difficult to remain COVID-conscious while still being able to effectively teach face-to-face. Two-thirds of teachers reported that they are struggling to meet both the emotional and mental health needs of their students due to COVID-19 concerns, and this is causing anxiety amongst teachers to skyrocket.
Studies also show that over 4% of educators report using drugs on a regular basis and almost 9% reported heaving alcohol use. Substance abuse in teachers is often associated with the need for pain relief, stress relief, or increased productivity. Though these numbers may seem small, they have increased over the last 10 years and will continue to do so as the stresses of the workplace fail to be addressed. The use of these substances can impact overall teaching performance, which in turn affects the environment that students are learning in.
There are several different ways in which teachers can get the help that they need for stress management, mental health conditions, and problems with substance abuse. Many schools and institutions provide an employee assistance program, or EAP. These programs are frequently available to support teachers struggling with mental health or substance abuse issues and can provide helpful care and treatment options. While they are mandatory among federal government offices, they may or may not be provided at the state or local government level. Because educators directly deal with young people on a day-to-day basis, and because they directly affect behavior and learning, it is imperative to seek help.
Most teachers work full-time throughout the week while also putting in extra hours after school’s close for the day and even during weekends or holiday breaks. This can make it difficult to seek therapy for stress management and mental health conditions. There are, however, many online platforms specifically designed to make accessing psychological services quick, easy, affordable, and many of these services offer emergency contact with a licensed therapist as needed.
A mental health and wellness app that can be used on a mobile device or a computer, it will provide instant connection to licensed therapists as well as other resources for managing stress, anxiety, depression, and other mental health concerns.
A meditation app that offers teachers specifically tailored exercises to help with stress management.
Another mindfulness app that partners with Teach for America to offer free access (with the registration of a TFA email address) to mental health resources for teachers.
An online resource that offers digital therapy to educators, emphasizing stress management, CBT training, and other educational resources meant to inform teachers about their own struggles and how they can reduce them in a simple and effective way.
There are also several support groups available specifically for teachers to be able to connect with other educators who may be dealing with similar difficulties, especially during the COVID-19 uncertainty. These groups not only offer emotional support, but they can also give teachers the advice and tools needed to better organize their priorities when it comes to the classroom. Engaging in discussion with other educators allows room to bounce ideas off of one another, to discuss what does and does not work, and to organize lesson plans in a group setting as opposed to trying to navigate these things alone.
Offers both online and in-person support groups that promote wellness and actually provide teacher-specific training on mindfulness and other stress relief techniques.
Meets online weekly to connect teachers, share ideas, and offer support through peer relationships.
A Facebook group that provides mental health support for educators and offers meetings and other helpful resources.
The following Podcasts are also a great resource for teachers, and they provide a form of sharing information between teachers. These Podcasts are written by teachers for teachers, and many of them include personal stories that remind educators that they are not alone.
This podcast places emphasis on educators sharing insight and advice on many different topics meant to make learning in the classroom effective and fun.
Dedicated to helping highlight stories and ideas that come directly from teachers on the ever-changing work environment of education.
Takes a more practical approach towards providing tips and tricks for teachers.
Connects teachers with experts in the educational field to share experiences, ideas, and different perspectives about current issues seen within academia.
Focuses mainly on the social and emotional aspects of teaching and offers support for faculty members.
Hosts different teachers and administrators whose goal is to share self-care stories and ideas.
Deals with work-life balance and how to be resilient in a workplace that deals with shaping young minds, specifically targeted at K-12 educators.
Educators may be hesitant to seek help when struggling with substance abuse, however, it is critical to seek help if substance abuse is a problem as it can lead to negative long-term effects for both the teacher and the students they come into contact with. Some helpful resources for finding substance abuse help include:
1-800-660-4357 This government-sponsored helpline can connect someone to substance abuse treatment centers in their area anywhere in the country.
A treatment finder tool that can help someone search for behavioral health or substance abuse treatment programs near them.
Another government-run treatment locator, this one is specifically designed to find substance abuse treatment programs anywhere in the country.
This is a treatment locator that specifically lists free or low-cost drug and alcohol treatment programs.
Browse the top-rated rehab centers for drug and alcohol addiction by state.
We’ve listed the best drug rehabs in each state according to accreditations, online reviews and treatment programs offered.
LiveAnotherDay.org’s helpline is a private and convenient solution for individuals seeking treatment for addiction or mental illness.
Calls to our helpline (all non-facility specific 1-8XX numbers) will be answered by Recovery Advisors, American Addiction Centers, or one of our verified local treatment partners. Calls are routed based on geographic location.
Our helpline is offered at no cost to you and with no obligation to enter into treatment. In some cases, Live Another Day charges our verified partner a modest cost per call, which helps us cover the costs of building and maintaining our website. We do not receive any commission or fee that is dependent upon which treatment provider a visitor ultimately selects.
For more information on Live Another Day’s helpline, as well as our selection process, mission statement, and staff, visit our About page.