NEW - Nivati adds financial wellness tool! Learn More

April 29, 2022 Haeli Harris

Reducing Teacher Stress in the Classroom

Tips for school districts and school boards to manage teacher stress

Reducing teacher stress in the classroom is an excellent way to improve the student and teacher experience.

Teaching is one of the most stressful professions, with 75% of teachers reporting frequent job stress. This is 3 times the average stress of the general population!

By addressing teacher stress, schools will be getting to the source of many challenges that schools face, including teacher retention and teacher and student performance.

Here’s how to prioritize teacher mental health in school culture plus specific ways to reduce teacher stress.

Anxiety and teaching: the causes

Some of the most common stressors for teachers include:

  • Overwhelming workloads
  • Long working hours
  • Crowded classrooms
  • Student inattention and lack of interest
  • Student behavior challenges and disciplining
  • Overstimulating working environment
  • Covering for absent teachers
  • Lesson preparation
  • Working with parents or guardians
  • Lots of administrative work
  • Changing goal targets from school leaders
  • Balancing parenting and teaching responsibilities

Prolonged stress in one or more of these areas can take a huge toll on anyone’s mental health. Some resulting mental health struggles teachers face include:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Chronic stress

According to a recent study by Collaborative for Social Emotional and Academic Learning, the most common emotions teachers report feeling on a daily basis are anxious, fearful, worried, overwhelmed, and sad.

Anxiety has been the most common feeling for teachers to experience since 2020.

Related: The Effects of Mental Health in the Workplace: What Employers Need to Know

8 Ways to Reduce Teacher Stress in the Classroom

Here are 8 ways school districts and individual schools can help reduce teacher stress in the classroom by addressing school culture.

  1. Start talking about mental health with teachers
  2. Educate your team about mental health
  3. Create teacher support systems
  4. Check in with your teachers
  5. Ask your teachers what they need
  6. Provide mental health days
  7. Offer self-care tools for teachers
  8. Give your teachers the gift of onsite massage

1. Start talking about mental health with teachers

When school leaders set the example, teachers and staff will follow.

School leaders can start the mental health conversation by talking about their own mental health experiences. During your next teacher meeting, dedicate some time to talking about mental health at work and what has helped you cope with your own stress.

Talk to your team about what has helped them cope as well. This will help teachers feel more comfortable talking about their struggles, increasing the likelihood of seeking support instead of quitting.

2. Educate your team about mental health

Direct teachers to mental health resources to learn how to take care of themselves.

Tell teachers about mental health hotlines like SAMHSA and NAMI. Consider bringing in a therapist to talk to your teachers about supporting mental health.

It is essential to educate staff about the causes of stress, the importance of addressing stress, and how to reduce teacher stress in the classroom before it gets too overwhelming. Common ways to cope with mental health struggles include meditation, therapy, exercise, healthy eating, yoga, and self-care.

Here are some educational mental health articles you can share with your teachers:

The Ultimate Employee Mental Health Kit is an excellent resource for teachers and staff, with tips from Nivati counselors on how to take care of yourself and manage stress with meditation, yoga, therapy, and more. This is a great one to download and share with your teachers!

This article from Teach.com includes 50 digital mental health resources for teachers—perfect for sending over to your teachers via email.

Reducing Teacher Stress in the Classroom—woman standing at from of elementary school classroom holding dry erase marker

3. Create teacher support systems

Talking about mental health struggles can reduce stress significantly. Encourage teachers to share their struggles with peers that understand their stress.

School leaders can try leading these groups themselves or get the help of a licensed counselor to run the group. Many mental health programs will provide this service.

Alternatively, pair teachers with buddies to help them keep each other accountable for taking care of themselves. This is a great way to hold each other responsible for self-care routines.

4. Check in with your teachers

One-on-one meetings are a great way to stay in tune with how your teachers are doing.

Even better, it is a chance to step away from the classroom and grab a coffee or sit outside, which can help provide teachers a much-needed break during the school week.

Take a few minutes during each one-on-one meeting to ask how they are doing. Ask them what you can do to support them.

They will likely give you hints on what your school district can do to support your teachers.

Related: How to Talk About Mental Health in the Workplace

5. Ask your teachers what they need

Only 16% of teachers feel that their school or school district provides enough mental health benefits, according to EdWeek Research Center.

To get even more teacher mental health data, survey your teachers and staff to find out what kind of support they need.

A best practice is to send out a survey like this once per quarter.

Ask employees to rate their stress, workload, anxiety, fatigue, and more on a scale of 1-10. Give teachers a chance to suggest things your district can do to support teachers.

6. Provide mental health days

Encourage teachers to take a day off. Completely.

If your district cannot do this, make sure to at least set expectations that teachers are not expected to work outside regular working hours. Setting clear, consistent expectations will help your teachers have healthy expectations of themselves and reduce teacher stress in the classroom.

7. Offer self-care tools for teachers

Only 6% of teachers could access therapy through their school or school district in 2021. Considering nearly a third of teachers suffer from depression alone, this is unacceptable!

School districts can use their funding to invest in teachers. Without healthy teachers, schools fall apart. It is well worth the investment! (Curious how? Check out How to Measure the ROI of Your Mental Health Program for everything you need to know about the benefits of mental health programs for organizations.

Therapy alone helps about 75% of people feel better. Mental health programs that provide tools like meditation, yoga, nutrition coaching, financial coaching, and more give employees access to various tools to help meet their mental health needs.

8. Give your teachers the gift of onsite massage

Onsite massage does wonders to reduce teacher stress in the classroom!

This is a great way to show teachers you appreciate them while also reducing their stress. Massage has been found to lower blood pressure, heart rate, tension, and anxiety.

Chair massages provide teachers something to look forward to and are a great way to reward teachers for all their hard work.

For more tips on supporting teachers, check out 11 Simple Teacher Morale Boosters for Going Back Into the Classroom.

THE UN-EAP

On-demand employee counseling, plus proactive care – yoga, meditation, and more – all in one employee wellbeing app.

Haeli Harris

Haeli Harris, LMFT is the Lead Counselor at Nivati. She has been practicing as a Marriage and Family Therapist since 2014. Haeli has experience working as a therapist in private practice settings, residential facilities, outpatient treatment care, schools, and telehealth.

Licenses, Certifications & Memberships
Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist, UT & HI
Registered Yoga Teacher 200
Trauma Conscious Yoga (2021)
Clinical Member of the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy

Education
Bachelor's of Science Degree in Human Development and Family Studies, University of Utah
Master's of Arts Degree in Marriage and Family Therapy, Northcentral University

MENTAL HEALTH FOR THE WHOLE EMPLOYEE