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8 Ideas to Help Teachers Support Their Mental Health

By Pam Dewey • mental health, teachers mental health, teacher mental healthcare, stress, teachers and stress, school teacher stress, supporting teacher mental health, mental health care, mental healthcare, taking care of your mental health, mental illness, depression, anxiety • May 05, 2022

Teachers give so much of themselves every day. They strive to ensure each student receives a good education, despite often limited resources. They spend long hours prepping for lessons and grading papers. They reach out to students who are struggling and help them.

The pandemic has only increased the workload for teachers. They’re being asked to support students through both virtual and in-person teaching. They are risking COVID-19 exposure and are often in charge of patrolling masking and other safety precautions.

It’s a lot to handle, and it’s no wonder many teachers are struggling. According to, “A study from Rand Corp. researchers from early 2021 found that 27 percent of teachers have experienced symptoms consistent with depression, while 37 percent have experienced symptoms consistent with generalized anxiety.”

Teachers can have a hard time giving themselves the same level of care they give their students. But caring for yourself is important, particularly when your primary role is caring for others. Here are 8 ideas to help teachers care for themselves and support their mental health.

Take time to yourself

Teachers spend all day with a room full of children or teens. To recharge, you need some time alone. suggests that you “make sure to plan at least 10 or 20 minutes a day where you can take a break and decompress by yourself.” That could mean going for a walk, eating lunch by yourself or even hiding out in your car for a bit. also suggests that teachers “bring a self-care ‘emergency pack’ to school with things you enjoy so you can de-stress during your break if needed.” Your emergency pack might include headphones, a favorite book or a notebook to doodle or write in.

Keep a journal

You can care for your emotional health by writing in a journal. Whenever you have a tough day, take some time to process your feelings by journaling. Writing can help you understand your feelings better and may help you let go of some of the frustration and stress you’re experiencing. 

Set boundaries

Even if you’re putting in long hours, you still need to carve out time that is completely your own and set firm boundaries around it. That could mean not checking work email past a certain time or setting your phone to do not disturb. You could also let parents know that you’ll respond to emails during certain times or only on certain days, for example, only on weekdays. If someone crosses these boundaries, re-iterate your boundaries, and let them know that you’re creating space to care for your mental health.

Ask for help

If you’re feeling overwhelmed, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Maybe you have a lot of papers to grade this week, and you don’t have time to go to the grocery store. Ask your partner to pick up the groceries this week. Or perhaps you have a challenging student, and you’re unsure what to do to help them. You can reach out to other teachers, the guidance counselor at your school or the principal. Maybe you’re just running low on supplies in the classroom. If a musician can crowdsource their next album, you can certainly ask friends and family to chip for a few supplies on social media. Remember, many people are looking for ways to help right now and would welcome an opportunity to support teachers.

Get active

Exercise releases body chemicals like endorphins, dopamine and serotonin. These chemicals increase good feelings in your body, improving your mental health. You don’t have to hit the gym every day, but make time to go for a walk, take a bike ride, jog around the neighborhood or dance around your living room.

Treat your body well

Physical health and mental health are closely linked. Besides staying active, you should get a full night’s sleep and try to eat a well-balanced diet. Doing these things will give you more energy, allowing you to recover more easily from stress.

Spend time with loved ones

Giving yourself time alone is important, but so is making time to see loved ones. You can connect over family dinner, have a game night, meet up for bowling or relax at home with your partner. Talking with loved ones about how you’re feeling can also help you release tension and stress.

Talk to a mental health professional

If you had a student who was depressed or experiencing anxiety, you’d likely suggest they talk to a therapist or the guidance counselor. You deserve the same care. If you’re feeling depressed, overwhelmed or are approaching burnout, reach out to a mental health professional. Insurance typically covers mental health services, at least in part. You can usually search for therapists near you on your insurance company’s website. Some therapists also offer sliding scale options.

Teachers spend their days caring for others. To take care of your mental health, you should take time for yourself, consider journaling, setting boundaries, asking for help when you need it, staying active, treating your body well, spending time with loved ones and talking to a mental health professional, when needed.