Over 80% of teachers say pandemic has hurt their mental health: Study
They cite long hours as one reason, while over 62 per cent say physical health has also declined
More than 80 per cent of teachers said their mental health has been negatively impacted by their work amid the Covid-19 pandemic in a nationwide survey.
They cited long hours as one reason, with 80.6 per cent working more than 45 hours a week.
This is above the average for the working population in Singapore, said the Singapore Counselling Centre (SCC), which conducted the study.
Results of the mental well- being survey of 1,325 teachers working in different levels from pre-schools to junior colleges were released yesterday.
Over 62 per cent said their physical health also declined, reporting ailments such as irritability, insomnia and recurring headaches. About 43 per cent said their personal relationships suffered and around 33 per cent fell sick easily.
The SCC had sent the teachers the survey via e-mail or social media from Aug 13 to Sept 3. The e-mail addresses were listed on their school websites.
Asked how they felt about their job, the top three emotions identified were negative.
About 56 per cent said they were overwhelmed, around 39 per cent said they were frustrated and 21 per cent indicated they were worried. The lack of work-life balance and excessive workloads topped the common stress factors identified.
Ms Karen Soon, project lead of the study, said the culture of long working hours and an inability to switch off from work was strongly linked to the lack of work-life balance.
Primary, secondary and junior college teachers were more vocal about the issue of additional workload than pre-school and special education teachers, she added.
A teacher juggles multiple duties, including academic teaching, classroom management, dealing with parents and event planning, said Ms Soon.
This has grown with the Covid-19 pandemic through additional responsibilities for teachers, such as enforcing safe management measures and classes for students who miss lessons from quarantine orders.
A secondary school teacher, 27, who declined to be named, told The Straits Times stress levels have risen because of the unexpected scenarios Covid-19 caused.
"Having to cover for colleagues or students who miss lessons, and having to find ways for them to keep up with the pace are examples," he said.
More than half of those surveyed struggled to manage students' behaviour, exacerbated by insufficient support for special needs students and difficulties with parents.
Many attributed this to "overwhelming" class sizes.
However, most teachers reported they were able to identify at least one area of satisfaction in their job. Over 81 per cent cited positive interactions with students.
While a majority faced mental pressure, the survey found that few sought help.
Ms Soon noted that 10.2 per cent turned to supervisors, while 8.2 per cent spoke to a mental health professional.
Many teachers have been advocating for structural changes such as reducing class sizes, she said, calling on stakeholders to facilitate a more positive environment for teachers.
Said Ms Soon: "We hope that these recommendations will also help parents and students become aware of the behavioural changes that they can make in their everyday (interactions) that would really support the teachers in becoming more mentally well".