Healthy Teachers, Healthy Schools: Resources for Teacher Self-Care

Dr. David Childs, D.D., Ph.D.

As we have written in a recent article, it is important to attend to the mental health needs of students in K-12 settings in the US and beyond. With the effects of COVID-19, increased stressors in and out of the classroom and with the proliferation of mass shootings, being aware of mental health challenges in the lives of youth is a top priority. As such, we should also be paying the utmost attention to the mental health of teachers. Because when our nation’s teachers are not healthy our schools are not healthy. Educators by virtue of their job description are givers and keep giving at the expense of their own health. There has been growing and much needed conversation about teacher self-care. In light of this great need, we are including some resources below for teachers to practice self-care.


Ryan Raphael for NPR

Mental Health America has important information in regard to teacher self-care on their website. A recent 2022 article states “According to several studies and reports, teaching is one of the most stressful jobs in the country. The American Federation of Teachers’ 2017 Educator Quality of Work Life Survey found that 61 percent of teachers said their jobs were always or often stressful—more than double the rate of non-teaching working adults—and 58 percent said they had poor mental health due to stress levels. That was before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, and since then, the transition to online learning, debates over reopening, and individual safety concerns are making teachers’ mental health worse.



Mental Health America offers this advice for teachers
“If you’re feeling tired and disengaged, there’s a good chance it’s related to trauma, secondary traumatic stress, and/or “battle fatigue.” Teachers are often focused on taking care of and supporting others, but without prioritizing your wellbeing, those stress levels won’t lift. Your mental health isn’t only important to you—teacher wellness is also linked to stability in schools and student achievement.” The article goes on to offer six tips for teachers to take care of their mental health:

1. Set boundaries early on – and hold them.
2. Focus on what you can control.
3. Move your body.
4. Stay in touch with friends and family.
5. Keep up with self-care.
6. Maintain Reasonable expectations.

Resources for Teacher Self-care
The 3 R’s for Teacher Self-Care: Reflect. Release. Recharge.
Don’t Forget the Adults: How Schools and Districts Can Support Educator Mental Health
Teachers’ Mental Health Has Suffered in the Pandemic. Here’s How Districts Can Help
We Need to Do More for Teachers Who are Exhausted, Stressed and Burned Out
15 Mental Health Tips For Teachers-Teach Thought
Teachers Are Experiencing a Mental Health Crisis, Too
10 Teacher Mental Health Tips You Can Put Into Practice Today
America’s Teachers Are Facing a Mental Health Crisis, Too

We are open to feedback and discussion. If you see any typos or grammatical errors please feel free to email the author and editor at the address below:

Dr. David Childs
childsd1@nku.edu 

9 Comments

  1. Teaching is quite a stressful job, and as the article dives into, over half of teachers surveyed have said that their job is stressful and that their mental health was quite poor. Covid was also a huge factor in this, and many teachers quit because they couldn’t handle the stress. While teaching still remains a stressful job title, it’s important for teachers to take care of their mental health. This article provides great resources for self-care that can boost a teacher’s mental health and allow for emphasis on an important idea: taking care of your mental health matters.

  2. I believe that it is very important for teachers to have good mental health and to be doing things in and out of school that help their mental health. I think this article really shows how teaching can impact teachers’ mental health, from all the stress they go through every day. Teachers need to do things regularly that are going to help their mental health. This may look different for every teacher. For some teachers this may be exercising and others it may be cooking a meal and tidying up after school. I just think it is important for teachers to do something for themselves to contribute to good mental health. Teachers are shaping future generations every day. It would make sense that we want our teachers to be healthy physically and mentally to best help their students. It is like the saying goes, “you must first fill up your cup first to pour into others.”

  3. As a future educator, I found this article extremely informative and useful. Even as a college student, it can be hard to find time and assure we are taking care of ourselves amongst everything else going on in our lives. This article provides some great ideas that we could use both in our future careers, and daily life today. I also like this article because it not only provides teachers insight into what they could do to better care for their mental health, it also offers important tips that we could pass along to our students when it comes to mental health. Thank you Dr. Childs for the great resources!

  4. I believe it is very important for teachers to manage their own mental health and understand how their emotional state impacts their classroom environment. Over the past few weeks, I have felt very tired and have had trouble finding motivation to get stuff done, as I find I often overwork myself to the point where I find it difficult to work for any extended period and I am constantly putting things off to the last minute. This article was a good reminder for me that not only do students need to slow down sometimes but teachers do as well. I have found myself thinking about how I am going to manage my work-a-holic tendencies when I start teaching as I’ve lived with the erratic schedule of a college student for the past few years, and I am excited to start teaching to have one thing in my life I can poor myself into. I also know I need to understand my limits and recognize when I need to catch up on sleep, eat better, and most importantly put work away to come back to later. I think a lot of my student teaching semester is going to be finding that balance as I focus on improving my classroom management and knowing when it is best to take time for myself. I expect to learn a lot from experienced co-workers on managing the work/life balance and hope I am quickly able to fall into the rhythm of things.

  5. As someone studying to be a teacher, to me it is a no brainer that being a teacher is stressful, but this article is very helpful for those who may not see that. Sometimes teachers are not seen as “professionals” or are told their job is easy. This is obviously not the case considering teaching was found to be one of the most stressful jobs. Teachers are shaping the minds of the youth, & if they feel not valued or are feeling stressed all the time, that will rub off on students. We need to respect our teachers more, and perhaps paying them more could be the first step. If they aren’t worrying about money, they could focus more on taking time for themselves, instead of getting a second job. I liked the steps teachers could take for self care, however this is what everyone is told over & over again and I believe we should be doing more to ensure that our teachers mental health is a top priority besides giving them a list of things that could possibly help destress them. I suggest having on campus therapists for teachers, or perhaps having a few paid mental health days where teachers can have a break. Everyone always says we need to do more for our teachers, but what are they doing?

  6. Reading this post was quite informing. Knowing that a good percentage of teachers face stress which can lead to poor mental health is a concerning topic. It is beyond important that when teachers face this stress, there are resources as well as people available to help teachers during these times. When the teacher isn’t doing well, the class will have a difficult time wanting to function.

  7. Reading this article was very informing. Knowing that a good percentage 0f teachers face stress in a way that leads to poor mental health is a concerning topic. Teachers play such an important role in the class and when they are not doing well, it is hard for the class to want to function well. Having resources and people there to back up teachers when stress hits is valuable. It is beyond important for teachers to take care of themselves so that they can take care of their students.

  8. This article is very enlightening and vastly true when it comes to the mental health of both teachers and students. One of the points that Dr. Childs’ made above was that in order to have healthy students it first starts with having a healthy teacher. I have learned this first and foremost in my journey of motherhood. Having a three and a half year old and a one year old, I understand the importance at prioritizing my health and well being so that I am at my best ability in what I can give to my children throughout so many different aspects. I see the biggest difference when I let my self-care slide to the back-burner. Thanks to Dr. Childs for this important information and I hope that we will all take it so serious!

  9. A few semesters ago I took a class called The Mindful Helping Professional and the class mainly focused on self-care in demanding jobs such as teaching. So when I saw the article about teacher self-care I had to read it because I know the importance of self-care for teachers. I really like the quote from the article, “when our nation’s teachers are not healthy our schools are not healthy” and I completely agree with the statement. Its important teachers know how to take care of themselves so we can also take care of our students. I really liked the 6 tips in the article and that they were simple things teachers can follow. I think it’s important that we know how to take care of ourselves not only for our mental health but so we can teach our students also how to take care of themselves. 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


*