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Mental Health

Mental Health Conversations in the Workplace and Education

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.

According to the CDC, mental health disorders are one of the most burdensome health issues in the United States. Nearly 1 in 5 adults 18 and older reported a mental illness in 2016. The question of why that happens, is a different question completely. One of the larger ones that we should be asking is, what can we do for working Americans? Poor mental health obviously affects workers outside of their workplace, but inside it can have even worse affects. Mental health disorders affect worker’s productivity, engagement, and communication with coworkers as well as even the physical capability to show up to and complete work.

Mental health is overlooked. There is a stigma of competition in the workplace. From coming in early and staying late to taking work with you, work is expected to be with us. As I am being introduced into the world of educators, I am highly seeing these stigmas. I feel if I show up before our contract time and stay later, I will be seen as a harder worker. If I use my lunch period to keep grading, I will be seen as a dedicated teacher. According to EdWeek, during the COVID-19 pandemic, teachers were more likely to experience feelings of stress and burnout than any other government employee. Nearly half of educators now worry about burnout. Burnout is caused by overworking, previous mental health struggles and lack of support. In the case for educators, support is lacking. Throughout the nation, school leaders are neglecting the conversation of mental health.

Mental health issues are caused by a number of things. People of color face racial injustice, bias and lack of support. Women face fertility issues, health struggles and lack of support. Young people face disrespect, bias and lack of support. Men face struggles with stereotypes, misconceptions and lack of support. The common theme here is lack of support. When it comes to any health issues especially mental health issues, educators and administrators suffer because of lack of conversation and lack of support. The lack of desire to have an open conversation drastically hurts those reaching our for help. A mentally healthy workplace is not something that exists in many places around the US.

According to a Harvard article, most teachers tell students their mental health matters and mindsets matter, but who is telling teachers their mental health matters? While teachers are trained to look for signs of struggles, stress, anxiety and depression in students, who is being trained to look for those illnesses in teachers? It is not uncommon for teachers to feel like they have to carry the world on their shoulders. They have tons of students everyday every year, and the conversations are always the same – nonexistent.

How can this issue be solved? Conversation. The first step is to break the walls between administrators and educators. Both need to be comfortable to break down the walls of communication barriers and speak openly about needs regarding mental health services and support. From harassment and bullying, to a toxic work environment or lack of support, educators and administrators alike need to openly be ready for conversation about improvements that need to happen for their staff to succeed.

According to WHO for every $1 invested into mental health services, $4 in productivity are returned. Anxiety and depression lead to an annual loss of 1 trillion dollars in global revenue. Not only are mental health services good for the economy, they’re even better for workers. These services can lead to longer lasting connections and staffing. Leaves of absence will decrease and workers will be ready to come into work because it no longer will be a burden.

I attended therapy for a year for grief counseling, anxiety, depression and trauma management. Had I not reached out and sought out these services, I don’t think I would even remotely be ready to handle the stress of student teaching, testing and job hunting. I wouldn’t be able to understand my life cycle and handle change or stress. Because I put my mental health first, I can handle my work places and the lack of support in it. I can have open conversations about my struggles and what I need to be successful. I am fortunate to have gotten it individually. For educators thought, some might fear that they will have no time to seek out help. Fears that they will need to use personal days or get substitutes in order to take time for themselves. That they can’t get support because school needs them first. This mindset has got to go. Through open conversation, protest and awareness, the stigma around mental health in education can go and workers can finally get what they need.

HCXO,

Cecilia

Read more here

https://schools.au.reachout.com/teacher-wellbeing

https://www.gse.harvard.edu/news/uk/19/12/safeguarding-mental-health-teachers

https://www.edweek.org/leadership/teachers-mental-health-has-suffered-in-the-pandemic-heres-how-districts-can-help/2021/05#:~:text=One%20study%20found%20that%20during,it%20was%20before%20the%20pandemic.

https://www.cdc.gov/workplacehealthpromotion/tools-resources/workplace-health/mental-health/index.html

https://www.who.int/teams/mental-health-and-substance-use/promotion-prevention/mental-health-in-the-workplace

Cecilia Arvelo

Millersville '22

Cecilia is a Senior at Millersville University. She is a Secondary Education major concentrated in Social Studies. In her free time, she loves to read, watch movies, drive around and explore. She loves writing for Her Campus, being a part of Campus Trendsetters, and exploring all of Her Campus's opportunities.
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