Creating a culture that will drive positive mental health outcomes is essential for any school seeking to prioritise the mental health and wellbeing of its staff.
No one can do their best if they are mentally and emotionally depleted. A school which provides psychological safety:
- supports its staff by reducing stress where it can
- helps staff feel valued and able to have open conversations
- enables staff to say ‘no’ if struggling without fear of the consequences
This is a workplace where staff are in a place to do their jobs well.
Whilst external pressures cannot be controlled, creating the right culture in your school will improve staff wellbeing, making it easier to recruit and retain high-performing staff.
Our Director of Programmes, Faye McGuiness has 5 key tips:
1. Listen to staff
All people feel appreciated if they feel heard. There may not be immediate solutions to every problem, but feeling listened to and understood are essential first steps to improved wellbeing. How can your school make sure staff feel heard? It might be a staff survey or regular ways to check in informally with how staff are feeling.
2. Make a plan
Once you’ve listened to staff, you can demonstrate you’re taking action where it’s possible. This shows that concerns are being taken seriously and that time and effort is being put into addressing reasonable ones.
3. Create an open culture
Staff need to feel able to talk safely and openly about any challenges and issues they may have. School staff need to feel able to ask questions, or disagree. A safe and open culture where that’s possible can have a big impact on morale and individual wellbeing.
4. Invest in line managers’ skills
Managers need to be supported to develop the skills needed to support others. They need to know how best to support their teams and have the necessary skills to feel confident having conversations about mental health.
5. Support people when they’re not at their best
This is the ultimate sign of appreciation. Staff need to know that their employer will support them in tough times. A recognition that we are human and all have times when we aren’t at our best can be the difference between a talented teacher staying at a school or leaving.
Education Support’s new mental health and well-being hub ‘Taking Care of Teachers’ gives you the tools to create a school culture that prioritises the mental health and well-being of teachers and all staff in your school.
Here are three key resources to help you get started:
- Staff well-being audit – assess what you are already doing to support staff mental health and well-being and the areas that need improvement.
- Mental health plan template – set out clear areas of focus, agreed actions and measures of success.
- Bringing well-being into the everyday – move away from well-being being seen as an ‘add on’ or ‘tick box’ exercise in your school.
Get ready for September. Check out Taking Care of Teachers, mental health and well-being hub. Funded by Welsh Government.
Finally, don’t forget all NAHT members can access a dedicated, confidential counselling and support helpline on 0800 9174055 provided by Education Support. Open 24/7, it is staffed by qualified counsellors and offers you emotional and practical support.
About Education Support
NAHT’s Charity of the Year, Education Support, is the only UK charity focusing on the mental health and well-being of education staff. Find out more here.