Protecting teacher wellbeing during lockdown

Written by: Sophie Howells | Published:
Image: Adobe Stock

While we are doing all we can to support the wellbeing of our young people during the school closures, we must not forget our teachers. From financial grants to mental health support, Sophie Howells advises

Our mental health and wellbeing are under pressure as never before and many of us will be feeling stressed and anxious.

As the coronavirus crisis continues and many of us adjust to working from home, we can all do things to bolster our emotional wellbeing and mental health, to improve our ability to manage anxiety and the times when we feel overwhelmed.

Make it a priority and find things that help you, whether you are working from home or going into school. We all have our own strategies but there are some common themes.


Teaching is inherently social and communication is fundamental to everyone working in schools. Stay in close touch and share your fears and concerns openly and honestly with friends, partners, colleagues and managers to get some perspective.

At the same time, think about others you might be able to help in some way – in your school community, at home or in your other networks. A phone call, text, Zoom get-together – whatever the medium, it can make a difference to how you and others feel.

If working and delivering lessons remotely, make sure you keep in close touch with your teams who can be a great source of support in themselves. If you have worries, problems or anxieties in or out of work that will not go away, then talking to someone outside your situation can make a huge difference and can help you to find a way through.

In these unprecedented times, Education Support’s free, confidential helpline is here for anyone working in education. Call 24/7 and speak to a trained counsellor (see further information).

Be realistic

Lower your standards. These are not ordinary times. Just getting through the day can be an achievement for many of us at present.

Some of you will be caring for others while trying to work. Stick to priorities and if more can be done then that is a bonus.

If you are a senior leader, be mindful of your and your team’s circumstances and workloads. Be realistic about what you and others can deliver, but also take the opportunity to look at and approach things differently.

The National Education Union (NEU), National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT), and the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) issued joint advice soon after the school closures to press home the importance of being realistic – to focus on the short-term, to ensure, above all else, that children feel safe and supported. So far, schools have done this amazingly well in exceptional times.

Seek financial support if needed

Many households are under financial pressure as a result of the coronavirus crisis. If you have money worries, check that you are getting what you may be entitled to.

As the charity for anyone in the sector, we have dealt with a record number of emergency grant applications since March, particularly from supply teachers and those employed on short-term contracts before schools closed.

We have also supported those whose partner’s work has stopped abruptly or whose income has suddenly reduced. Time and again, people tell us they wish they had known about us sooner. Our confidential grants service continues to be available to anyone in education and we are here to help you find a way through difficult times.

Develop a routine

In addition to being realistic about what you can achieve, if you have not quite managed it yet, find a daily routine for yourself and stick to it. This should include breaks where you may schedule in time for getting outside for a daily walk or some time in your garden if you have one or other outside space if you have it at home. Or perhaps some exercise or meditation with the help of online videos.

Look out for others – help neighbours, friends and others as you can. Whether it is a doorstep delivery, a brief text or phone call to check-in, it can mean a lot. We have been forced to slow down our lives so look for the benefits in this.

Take notice of nature. Birdsong is known for benefits for mental and physical health.

It is the simple things that help to stay well in mind and body. Try to stay active, build some exercise and fresh air into your day whenever you can, eat well and do not over-do bad habits. Limit social media and your news consumption if you feel it is affecting how you feel and make sure you do what you can to help aid good sleep.

And talk. Know that you are not alone. We are all in this together and while looking forward to better times is important, doing what you can now will make a difference too.

  • Sophie Howells is from Education Support, a UK charity dedicated to improving the mental health and wellbeing of the education workforce.

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