The mental health and wellbeing of school staff and their pupils is closely linked. If teachers and school staff work in an environment where wellbeing is prioritised and they feel supported and valued, their pupils will also reap the benefits. So how can schools go about this, and what kind of outcomes can protecting staff mental health translate into for pupils?
Foster a culture of openness
Having an open culture around mental health and wellbeing is a great place to start. If staff are encouraged to be honest and open about their wellbeing, pupils are more likely to also follow suit. A culture of openness around wellbeing gives teachers the confidence to talk about the subject, which in turn reduces the stigma. We know that there is stigma declaring a mental health issue in education, but openness around mental health benefits all those in the school community. The knock-on effect makes it more likely that the young people who need help feel better able to ask for it.
Happy teachers equal happier students
As with any job, happy employees perform better at work. Those who feel valued, heard, and equipped to do their jobs will translate into better pupil outcomes, academically as well as holistically. Staff wellbeing is a social issue – when children spend time in high-stress environments, it has an effect on them socially.
Children and young people look to teachers as role models. It’s therefore crucial that teachers model positive behaviours when it comes to wellbeing, and demonstrate the attitudes they’re teaching. If staff are happy and supported at work, this will be a much easier task.
Invest in staff wellbeing to reduce staff sickness and improve pupil outcomes
Well-supported school staff are less likely to take time off with sickness, including stress. Continuity of teachers means less upheaval for pupils. Likewise, ensuring teachers feel supported, happy in their role and able to raise concerns translates into better retention.
Schools can reduce overall costs by investing in staff wellbeing. The cost of staff sickness can range from £20,000 to £100,000 a year, depending on the size of the school. This investment pays off for pupil outcomes as well as for school staff. When children and young people feel secure at school, they can build positive relationships with teachers, and see less interruption to their learning.
How can governors help?
Governors can help make sure teachers and school staff are mentally healthy, especially at work. Term 2 of our campaign Wellbeing Governors focuses on staff mental health and wellbeing where we’re releasing resources throughout the term. These resources aim to give governors the confidence and tools they need to make sure schools are providing staff with quality wellbeing provision and support with their mental health.
Listen to our recent webinar where panellists discussed why and how school governors should care about staff mental health and wellbeing. You can also download a summary of the key points raised, including practical tips to implement in your school.