Burnout’ is a term used to describe chronic stress, and is a state of physical and emotional exhaustion. It can occur when you experience long-term stress in your job, or when you have worked in a physically or emotionally draining role for a long time.’
Source: Mental Health UK
Burnout isn’t something which goes away on its own. Rather, it can worsen unless you address the underlying issues causing it. If you ignore the signs of burnout, it could cause further harm to your physical and mental health in the future. You could also lose the ability and energy to effectively meet the demands of your job which could have knock-on effects to the other areas of your life.
Burnout is more likely to occur when work pressures combine with other stressors
Burnout and Teaching
Research on stress for teachers is long-established, as is periodic media interest in teacher burnout and shortages within the profession, and stress is broadly understood as an interaction between the individual teacher and their environment. Teachers may be more or less personally equipped to manage stress at different points in their life, and schools may also bring higher or lower levels of stress upon their staff.
For example, teachers who feel that the leader of their school is supportive of them are generally less stressed (van Dick & Wagner, 2001) as are those who feel that their colleagues are supportive (Haly, 2009). Unsurprisingly, teachers perceiving a high level of classroom demand and low levels of resources report less job satisfaction and more plans to leave their posts (McCarthy, Lambert & Resier, 2014).
Mental health UK have a wellbeing plan template that can be used with staff that looks at what good wellbeing looks like for the individual, challenging times and what support they currently have. You can download a copy of this here: Mental Health UK Wellbeing plan.
Catalyst have produced a document based on the 5 ways to wellbeing, as a framework for school leaders to look at what their organisation does to support wellbeing, and what else they could do. You can download a copy of this here: Catalyst 5 ways to wellbeing worksheet.
Mental health UK have a stress bucket activity that may be a useful activity for staff members.
Image source: Discovery in action
Imagine there’s a bucket you carry with you which slowly fills up when you experience different types of stress. Sometimes you feel strong enough to carry a lot of stress, but it’s important to find activities which help you release some of the water from the bucket to lighten your load. Ask your staff what helps them reduce stress, and how can they keep those activities going when other pressures build up.
Education support are a charity that support the mental health and wellbeing of teachers and education staff in schools, colleges and universities. They have a helpline teachers can call, and resources to support teacher wellbeing on their website.
The BBC have teacher support videos ‘Confessions of a Teacher’ where real teachers talk about their experiences on common themes in the profession.
The following video explores teachers experiences of workload.
Teachers open up about mental health
Kelly Hopkinson's TedTalk on the importance of self care for teachers