Friday, April 5, 2019

Teachers’ Mental Health Linked to Students’ Well-Being, Study Shows

Teachers’ mental health and well-being can affect the mental health and well-being of their students, according to research published in the Journal of Affective Disorders.

Sarah Harding, M.Sc., of Bristol Medical School in the United Kingdom and colleagues collected data from 3,215 12- and 13-year-old students and 1,182 teachers in 25 secondary schools in England and Wales in June and July 2016. They measured all participants’ well-being with the Warwick Edinburgh Mental Wellbeing Scale, for which a higher score means greater well-being. They used standard questionnaires and scales to assess the teachers’ depressive symptoms and presenteeism (working while physically or psychologically ill or stressed) and student psychological distress. The researchers also created a questionnaire to measure the quality of teacher-student relationships in which students were asked to rate the following statement, “teachers and students generally have good relationships at this school” from “strongly disagree” to “strongly agree.”

The researchers found that greater teacher well-being and better teacher-student relationships were associated with greater student well-being and lower student psychological distress. They also found that higher teacher presenteeism and absence—but not teacher depressive symptoms—were associated with poorer student well-being and higher student psychological distress. Stronger teacher-student relationships appeared to offset the impact of teacher depressive symptoms on student psychological distress.

The researchers also noted that student mental health and well-being could affect teacher mental health and well-being as well.

“The relationships between teacher well-being, the quality of teacher-student relationships, teacher presenteeism, and student mental health outcomes are clearly complex and likely to be interrelated,” the authors wrote. “The results of this study suggest that improving teacher well-being may lead to better student well-being via more supportive relationships or reduced teacher presenteeism.”

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