Mental health in school: when students and teachers fight against anxiety and stress

Since the beginning of the health crisis, the mental health of young people has been at the center of all concerns. From kindergarten to high school, through primary and secondary school, students in French schools face a marked increase in their levels of stress and anxiety. In question ? As varied as the Covid, the climate crisis, screens or difficult personal situations. Faced with this growing unease, teachers are on the front lines and their morale is affected as well. In its latest study, the Synlab association studies the relationship between the mental health of young people and that of their teachers. An uplifting report that invites us to rethink the guidance and training of teachers.

“After a health pandemic, we are now facing a pandemic of the
stress at school that affects both young people and adults”
Synlab states at the end of its major research mental health in school† Since 2012, the association has been working to convey a message: teachers are the best chance of success for underprivileged young people.

Screenshot Synlab Report

Thanks to this survey, which was conducted from April 27 to May 11, 2022 among 1,056 teachers, the association was initially interested in the mental health of young people and the causes of their mental illness. According to the teachers surveyed, about one in four students indicate that they have stress or anxiety. Stress is especially high in secondary school: 26% and 31% of students are affected respectively in secondary and secondary school.

High school students in vocational education are most exposed to these mental health problems. “Indeed, vocational high school students often combine social and school career difficulties”reveals the report.

“I am characterized by the explosion of specific problems (anxiety attacks among students) since the Covid. There is a constant need to put in place special systems to respond to the specific difficulties of the students and this is becoming increasingly complex and stressful.

A vocational education teacher

Stress Affecting Teachers

According to teachers, the three main sources of stress for their students are family problems, screens (social networks, telephones) and the social and health context.

The psychological state of students is not without consequences for their behavior in the classroom or for their relationship to school. Indeed, this anxiety and stress can have the effect of demotivating those who feel discouraged, unable to keep up. In its report, Synlab therefore assumes that this ambient malaise could be the cause of the early school leaving of some students.

Other, more dangerous behaviors testify to this psychological distress: aggressive attitudes, risky behavior, suicide attempts, etc. Difficult situations that do not surprise the teachers.

“Student stress also has an impact on the teacher. Some students will express their stress through disruptive behavior in the classroom. However, controlling this disruptive behavior is the primary source of stress for teachers. So there is a link between student stress and teacher stress.”

Fernando Núñez-Reguiero Researcher in Educational Sciences, specializing in early school leaving

38% of teachers surveyed said they felt emotionally drained from their job at least once a week. And over 80% of them report moderate or high emotional exhaustion.

Screenshot Synlab Report

Breaking the taboo on mental health

This research reveals a crying need to care for teachers, who in turn can prevent stressful situations for their students.”, concludes Florence Rizzo, co-founder and co-director of the SynLab association. Therefore, on its Being a Prof platform, the association offers a free training module titled “Reducing the stress of its students” and developed by psychologists and experienced teachers to help teachers cope with the stress of their students.

“This research shows that the taboo on mental health is disappearing. We must encourage and support this freedom of expression around mental health issues to protect young people and ensure their future development.”adds Hélène Romano, doctor of psychopathology and psychotherapist.

In other words, there is an urgent need to train teachers to identify and defuse the stressful situations of their students for the well-being of both…

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