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Mental Well-Being of Teachers – The Role of Emotional Intelligence

Mental Well-Being of Teachers – The Role of Emotional Intelligence

Teachers are, unfortunately the most neglected community in the education system. We talk about raising a new generation and empowering it with IQ and EQ, but at the same time we forget the captain of this ship. Teachers are the inner core of the entire education system and empowering them will in turn empower our youth. Failing to address the teachers’ needs may affect their ability to address the needs of the students.

WHO has elucidated mental wellness as a state of well-being in which the individual realises his or her abilities, to cope with everyday stresses of life, to work productively and fruitfully and contribute to his or her community.

Teaching has always been stressful, but many of the primary causes of stress such as limited resources are worsening in many districts. Researches show that we undermine several stresses and factors surrounding teachers' wellness. The AFT survey has found that there would be 20% increase in teachers reporting stress-related symptoms in just 3 years ahead.

There is no denying that these stressors have an impact on teachers’ mental health are environmental and structural in nature, and emanate from a system that is further draining teachers’ sense of autonomy and empowerment. Heightened attention given to student test scores has placed teachers under immense scrutiny as their professional success is measured directly by how the students score and perform in their exams. They also have to navigate through challenging student behavior and complex parent, and family needs.

Whenever a student experiences any trauma at home or lack of sufficient resources to thrive, teachers are the first to understand what is wrong and how to respond. In the absence of a proper support system in place, the teacher may feel helpless to meet the needs of the student. Hence, as the teacher becomes the primary source of a student’s support system, it is very emotionally exhausting for them to deal with the situation.

While the uncertainty of the pandemic takes on a life of its own in the months to come, it becomes crucial to foster mechanisms that support, allow room for error, peer-learning and reframe the narrative that romanticizes the emotional labour teachers and educators put into their jobs.

Factors affecting a teacher’s performance are listed below:

  • Aptitude, attitude and subject mastery.
  • Teaching methodology, personal characteristics.
  • The classroom environment.
  • General mental ability and personality.
  • Preparation and planning.
  • Effectiveness in the present subject matters.

How do we ensure our teachers’ mental well-being?

Any profession that is bound to have its stresses and teaching is no different. But an unhealthy amount of stress is harmful to the society in various ways. Talking about teachers’ well-being, self-care is suggested as a way of stress reduction for them. However, such practices do not address the root cause of the stress and are only helpful in ways to alleviate the symptoms of stress. A holistic approach is needed to deal with this in a better way. The answer to this lies in empowering teachers with emotional intelligence; teaching them about Emotional Intelligence, will in turn open doors of success for students. Emotionally intelligent teachers will motivate their students in a better way taking into account their psychological well-being.

Emotional Intelligence covers self-awareness, self-management, social awareness which can be termed as empathy and relationship management. The most important aspect is empathy. If the teacher is able to understand the feelings of students in a better way, they will be able to guide them without any judgement. Empathy shown by a teacher will make a very positive impact on the students’ mind. Educating the heart of the child is the main requirement for the overall development. In order for that to take effect, it is highly important to focus on the emotional needs of the teachers first. Across the globe, today people understand the importance of Emotional Intelligence as a positive factor for human development. Today, various institutions are developing programs keeping this in mind. This is the right step forward and the dire need of the hour. We need to have a more holistic approach towards the mental well-being of students and teachers and this is where we begin. IQ+EQ = Success.

“Teachers are the backbone of any education system. Let us not ignore their importance and work towards building a more empathetic and positive society. Let us give them the toolkit to combat with the new normal and help them build a more empowered youth for tomorrow.”

About the Author

Mansi Dholakia is a qualified pharmacologist, certified in Psychology from the University of Cambridge, a published author, and a passionate mental health advocate from London, UK. Mansi is the Founder & CEO of GMHA Corporation, established in Delaware, USA.