Promoting Teacher Mental Health? Ask These 5 Questions to Create a Well-Being Plan
Stress is taking a toll on teacher mental health.
This is not a surprising statement, as educators have countless responsibilities. Teachers have needed to adjust their work in many ways in recent years. This reality can make it difficult for educators to sustain their well-being.
Christian van Nieuwerburgh, global director of Growth Coaching International, has coached numerous teachers and believes it’s critical for educators to create a well-being plan for themselves to support their mental health.
In this PLtogether Lounge Talk with Edthena founder and CEO Adam Geller, Christian explained the importance of developing a structured wellness plan and outlined five questions that are integral to creating one.
Also the Professor of Coaching and Positive Psychology at the University of East London, Christian van Nieuwerburgh talked about and emphasized why self-care is not selfish.
Check out a video of the conversation above, or continue reading for highlights and the five critical questions that address teacher mental health.
Why teacher mental health needs an intentional approach
Christian first acknowledged, “Teaching is always a challenging role.”
So how can teachers work on their own mental health to be more successful?
It’s important for educators to intentionally look after their own well-being.
“There’s so much going on that we might not be getting what we need for our mental health,” said Christian.
But, it can feel selfish for those whose jobs are rooted in caring for others, to care for themselves.
Christian advised teachers against feeling indulgent just for looking after their own mental wellness.
“My argument is, we have to do that so that we can be the best educators that we can be,” stated Christian. “We want teachers to look after themselves because that allows them to look after others better.”
Turning energy inward to their own wellness is what supports teachers to maintain and sustain their work. As the saying goes, “You must put your oxygen mask on first, before helping someone else.”
Christian remarked, “When we’re depleted, when we’re running on empty, we’re not going to be able to provide the kind of care and support we would like to provide. It’s not selfish to look after yourself.”
Developing a well-being plan is an important way to be proactive about cultivating positive teacher mental health.
5 questions to create a teacher well-being plan
When creating a well-being plan, teachers should consider what they need to sustain their mental wellness.
This is more than just thinking happy thoughts.
Here are five questions Christian van Nieuwerburgh noted as helpful for teachers to ask themselves when building a well-being plan to support teacher mental health.
- What are the things that boost my well-being?
This will be unique to the individual. Perhaps a teacher loves the outdoors and being outside for some time each day will help re-energize them.
- When am I going to have some downtime?
Christian encouraged teachers to build that time in, giving his own example:
“I love the outdoors. So [I allotted] an hour for just walking outdoors. I would protect that time, maybe 5 p.m., maybe 8 a.m.”
- What am I doing to nourish myself during challenging times?
Christian explained, “[If] I know there’s gonna be challenging times ahead, I know that resilience is going to be called for.” Having a strategy already in place to provide comfort can preemptively address upcoming stress.
- Am I achieving what’s important?
What’s truly important to a person can be lost in their day-to-day work. Christian himself addressed what was most important to him beyond his work with more family Zoom calls.
- What am I looking forward to?
Looking forward to things is helpful to teacher mental health. Christian encouraged teachers to think about what they could feel optimistic about, “Even if it’s five months from now.”
Teacher well-being shouldn’t be an afterthought
Addressing teacher mental health means taking intentional action proactively.
A well-being plan considering Christian van Nieuwerburgh’s five key questions can help prioritize your own or your teachers’ mental wellness.