Specifically designed for school teachers and principals, Mindarma’s new Education Edition of its online resilience training program aims to bring better mental health to some of Australia’s most important workers.
An evidence-based program, supported by the Black Dog Institute, Mindarma was first developed for emergency services personnel. The award-winning program has since been adapted for many occupations where workers are at high risk of psychological injury, including lawyers, journalists and corrective services personnel.
For Mindarma co-founder Dr Sadhbh Joyce, it was a simple decision to create a version of the program for educators. “With home-schooling last year, everyone got a glimpse at just how challenging teaching can be. Despite statistics long showing that many teachers are suffering, very few proactive programs have been implemented to give teachers the support they deserve,” says Dr Joyce.
Mindarma aims to reach many of the 300,000 primary and secondary school teachers across Australia, to help equip them with the psychological skills and strategies which are essential for their work.
Research highlights the urgent need for action
A newly released wellbeing survey of 2,248 school leaders exposes the many challenges principals are currently facing. The study by Australian Catholic University [ACU] and Deakin University highlighted extreme working hours as a major concern, with 97 per cent of principals working overtime, and almost 70 per cent working more than 56 hours a week during the term. Principals are experiencing burnout at much greater rates than the general population. They are also more stressed and more likely to experience depressive symptoms and sleeping troubles. Disturbingly, principals also suffer physical violence at rates 9.5 times greater than the general population, with 48.5% being exposed to threats of violence and/or physical violence in the previous year.
Teachers have also been shown to be struggling, with a recent survey of Australian teachers, conducted by Bond University (pre COVID-19), revealing around 18% of respondents had symptoms that met the criteria for moderate to severe depression. Nearly 62% met criteria for moderate to severe anxiety while nearly 20% (19.75%) had severe anxiety. 17% screened positive for having probable alcohol abuse or dependence.
Teachers have previously reported the highest level of occupational stress in Australia (Millburn 2011) and make more mental stress claims than any other industry (Workcover 2014). A half to two-thirds of teachers have considered leaving the profession due to stress (Milburn, 2011; Phillips, 2011b; Simos, 2011; “Teacher Stress,” 2012).
Teachers and principals face mounting pressures
As part of the customisation process for Mindarma’s Education Edition, numerous interviews were conducted with principals and teachers across Australia and overseas. One of the most common stressors for teachers was workload, with most devoting many hours beyond class time to preparation, marking and the supervision of extra-curricular activities. Principals also struggled under the demands of managing budgets, personnel and a wide variety of operational tasks.
Interactions with parents were another cause for stress. Many teachers and principals reported spending significant time responding to emails and addressing parental concerns. A significant number had also experienced aggressive, threatening or verbally abusive behaviour from both parents and children.
During 2020, many teachers and principals faced significant additional stress, having to rapidly respond to Covid-19, adapt to online learning and deal with the high levels of uncertainty caused by the pandemic.
Another serious challenge was dealing appropriately with child welfare issues. Many teachers and principals reported having to intervene in delicate and potentially traumatic situations involving vulnerable young people.
Supporting those who work with children
For those undertaking challenging roles working with children and young people, it is critical they are equipped with the right knowledge, skills and self-care strategies. “While some people can be amazing at looking after others, they do not always offer themselves the same level of care,” says Dr Joyce. “We need to ensure those who take on such vital work are properly supported.”
At the height of last year’s Covid crisis, Mindarma was delivered to hundreds of workers across the youth homelessness sector and a customised version of the program will soon be delivered to youth justice workers. Mindarma is also being rolled out to support UNICEF workers as they deliver services to children across the Asia-Pacific region.
As well as supporting teachers in Australia, Mindarma is also working to support teachers overseas, partnering with NGO Education Europe to help distribute the program to educators in many countries where the pandemic continues to surge.
Mindarma delivers discounted access to educators
To support our schools and educators, Mindarma is currently offering ½ price access to the Education Edition of the program, with a 12 month subscription now just $49.50 inc. GST. To purchase simply go to www.mindarma.com and use the discount code EDUAU_50 at the checkout or contact firstname.lastname@example.org to request an order form.